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Do Not Disturb! Visva-Bharati Administration Reacts to Protests by Left Students’ Groups

File Photo of Visva Bharati University, in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. (Image: Visva Bharati official website.)

File Photo of Visva Bharati University, in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. (Image: Visva Bharati official website.)

The registrar on Monday issued a notification declaring the main administrative building as ‘no disturb zone’ after students protested against university vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty for inviting BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta earlier this month to deliver a lecture on CAA and NRC.

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Sujit Nath

Kolkata: The Left and Right are at loggerheads in Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva-Bharati, with reports of skirmishes emerging frequently. Amid recent protests at the university by students’ bodies affiliated to communist parties against the Narendra Modi government’s revision of India’s citizenship law, the registrar on Monday issued a notification declaring the main administrative building as ‘no disturb zone’.

The central university located in West Bengal’s Santiniketan was founded by Tagore who called it Visva Bharati, which means ‘the communion of the world with India’.

“It is directed to notify for information of all concerned that henceforth, the Central Administrative Building including the area of Central Library and Academic and Research Section are declared as 'no disturb zone' of the university. Hence, any kind of procession/demonstration/get together surrounding these areas is strictly prohibited,” the notification reads. “All concerned are hereby requested to extend necessary cooperation in compliance with the above direction of the authority. This is issued with the approval of the competent authority.”

The decision was taken after students protested against university vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty for inviting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Swapan Dasgupta for delivering a lecture on the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

Students gathered in front of the administrative building to protest against the V-C on Monday after a video was circulated among the teaching and non-teaching staff in which he was allegedly heard issuing a cryptic message to someone to “deal” with the Left-wing students’ groups.

Students’ Federation of India (SFI) Birbhum district secretariat member Somnath Shaw said, “The notification was issued to prevent us from raising our voices against the bad practices of university officials. Such a notification is not going to suppress the movement. We have also lodged a police complaint against the V-C after the video was circulated where one can hear how he was asking someone to give us the right medicine. We felt that it was an indirect threat to us and today we gathered there to protest.”

Recently, some Left students were allegedly beaten up by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists for protesting against Dasgupta’s lecture on the citizenship issue in the first week of January.

Then, Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) president Sudipta Bhattacharyya had said, “This is very unfortunate and we strongly condemn this incident. We demand strict action against those who are involved in this shameful act.”

SFI leaders alleged that ever since Dasgupta left the university due to protests on January 8, they have been receiving anonymous death threat calls.

Despite repeated attempts by News18, the vice-chancellor was not available for comment. A Visva-Bharati spokesperson said on Sunday that the video was doctored.


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