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Jadavpur University V-C Fails to Cut Ice With Students on Day 4 of Hunger Strike, Girl Taken to Hospital

The protesting students, backed by a few teachers, have brought Jadavpur University back in news and to a stalemate with both groups boycotting classes and demonstrating at the premises.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:July 9, 2018, 11:17 PM IST
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Jadavpur University V-C Fails to Cut Ice With Students on Day 4 of Hunger Strike, Girl Taken to Hospital
Students of Jadavpur University are observing an indefinite hunger. (PTI Photo)
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Kolkata: As a bunch of Jadavpur University (JU) students continue with their indefinite hunger strike for the fourth straight day, the university vice-chancellor failed to cut ice with the agitating students when he tried to talk to them on Monday.

The protesting students, backed by a few teachers, have brought the university back in news and to a stalemate with both groups boycotting classes and demonstrating at the premises.

One of the 20 students observing hunger strike — against the university’s decision to scrap entrance examinations for several humanities subjects — had to be rushed to a hospital after her blood pressure dropped far below normal levels.

The All Bengal University Teachers’ Association (ABUTA) on Monday blamed state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee for the ongoing crisis.

Speaking to News18, ABUTA President Tarun Kanti Naskar said, “Over the last few months, the education minister has raised questions on many occasions about the current system of entrance examinations for applicants in undergraduate arts courses. We believe that V-C Suranjan Das took the decision to engage external experts to prepare one of the two sets of question papers for the tests coming under pressure.”

Naskar added, “We believe that V-C took the decision after being pressurised by the education minister. We oppose the interference of the education department in the academic affairs of the university because the previous system for admission was flawless and there was not a single complaint so far. We believe that the minister is responsible for this.”

He said, “This is the reason why V-C, while interacting with the agitating students admitted his failure in resolving the crisis. This clearly indicates that he is under pressure.”

Earlier on Monday, the vice-chancellor met the students and urged them to call off their hunger strike.

He told them that his job is to implement the orders of the JU Executive Council (EC).

“As long as I am occupying the V-C's chair, I don’t have any other choice but to go by the decision taken in the EC meeting. What I personally feel doesn’t matter here. EC’s decision is the last word but I do have the interest of students in mind,” he told the students parked in front of the university building.

Meanwhile, after meeting the representatives of the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA), Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who is also the university chancellor, sent a mail to V-C Suranjan Das and reportedly asked him to work for the betterment of the students and immediately resolve the issue.

In a statement issued by Raj Bhavan, the governor appealed to the students to withdraw their hunger strike and restore normalcy in the university.

JUTA Assistant Secretary, Dr Partha Pratim Ray (Assistant Professor, Department of Physics), said, “Today, we submitted a memorandum to the Governor and apprised him about the existing situation at the JU campus. We told him that one of the students had to be admitted to the hospital as her health deteriorated. All of us requested his intervention into the matter. It was learnt that the Governor has asked the V-C to resolve the issue at the earliest.”

He added, “Later, we met the V-C and requested him to call another EC meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to resolve the issue keeping in mind the interests of students who are awaiting admission in JU.”

Almost after 40 years, JU has for the first time decided to do away with the entrance examinations for aspiring candidates in six undergraduate arts courses, including English, Comparative Literature, History, Political Science, Philosophy and Bangla.

A section of university professors feel that the decision to appoint “external experts” to draft one of the two sets of question papers for the entrance examination in six undergraduate arts courses is humiliating and unwanted.

JU has been embroiled in controversies since July 4, when the executive council announced its decision to scrap entrance tests for the six subjects.
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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