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Visva Bharati to Write to PM Modi, Seek Central Forces Deployment After Violence in Premises

File Photo of Visva Bharati University, in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

File Photo of Visva Bharati University, in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

The heritage university founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was shut down indefinitely on Monday following violent protests against Visva Bharati's decision to construct a boundary wall around the venue of Poush Mela, a prestigious annual cultural event started more than a century ago.

Visva Bharati authorities have decided to seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for deployment of central security forces on its premises, a day after vandalism forced its closure, a top official of the prestigious institution said on Tuesday.

The heritage university founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was shut down indefinitely on Monday following violent protests against Visva Bharati's decision to construct a boundary wall around the venue of Poush Mela, a prestigious annual cultural event started more than a century ago.

"The executive council (of the university) has unanimously decided to write to the honourable chancellor (the prime minister) for deployment of any of the central security forces to deal with security issues on the campus," one of its members said. According to Shyam Singh, the Birbhum district superintendent of police, nine persons have been arrested for campus violence.

Palpable tension prevailed at the institute with barely any movement seen on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, a senior professor of the institution has alleged a group of protesters ransacked his residence early Tuesday, hours after the decision to close the university was announced.

Biplab Loha chowdhury, the head of the university'sjournalism department, also said that he has filed a police complaint, and written to the registrar of the institute to intimate him about the incident.

A senior police officer in Birbhum said an FIR has been lodged in the case, and the matter was being looked into.

"They opened the gate, broke window panes and hurled abuses at me for supporting the university in its decision to build a fence around the Poush Mela ground," he said. The central university has said that the decision to shut down the institute, however, will not affect the admission process, examinations and other emergency work.

According to district officials, tension had been brewing in the area over the past few days as local traders were miffed at the university's decision to cancel this year's Poush Mela, a year-end annual fair that draws lakhs of visitors from across the world. Trouble erupted on Monday after the fencing work began on the fair ground, with thousands of protesters vandalising construction equipment and tearing down the main gate.

The Trinamool Congress government condemned the violence, but threw its weight behind the protesters.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was against any construction at the site and asked the district administration to convene a meeting of the stakeholders. The university authorities, however, said a fence around the fair venue was required to honour an order of the National Green Tribunal, which had on November 1, 2017, said that a "barrier needs to be constructed to demarcate the Mela ground from the university and the locality."

"Given the vandalism today leading to the destruction of university property worth several lakhs (of rupees) due to the complete absence of police deployment in spite of having two police stations within the university campus, it is decided to bring this to the notice of the Hon'ble Chancellor," a Visva Bharati statement had said on Monday.

It said the university will remain closed till the situation improved.

Meanwhile, TMC's Dubrajpur MLA Naresh Bauri, who was present at the site during the violence, said he had gone there as a former student of the institute and not a party leader.

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