Second Day in a Row, Jadavpur Varsity Students Show Black Flags to Bengal Governor, Block His Car Amid Protest
The protest by the students comes just a day after a similar demonstration when Dhankar was heckled and shown black flags on the campus, which is a hotbed of anti-CAA protests.
Protesting students block Governor Jagdeep Dhankar's car at Jadavpur University.
Kolkata: For the second day in a row, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar was shown black flags at Jadavpur University and barred from entering the campus — a hotbed of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act — to attend the convocation ceremony after he declared as “illegal and invalid” the varsity's decision to defer the December 24 special convocation because of possible trouble.
Taking to Twitter, Dhankar called the confrontation a worrisome and “unwholesome” situation. “At Jadavpur University so that the students may get their degrees and enjoy the fruits of their labour and contribute to society. Unfortunately the way to the venue in the University is blocked. Unwholesome. No affirmative role by concerned in sight. Worrisome situation.”
He added that the number of those obstructing was “only around 50”. “System being held hostage and those enjoined with the task are oblivious of their obligations. A collapse that can only lead to unwholesome consequences. Rule of law is no where in sight. As constitutional head concerned,” Dhankar added.
The protest by the students comes just a day after a similar demonstration when Dhankar was heckled and shown black flags. The students threatened to protest again not to take degrees from him if Dhankhar visited the campus at Tuesday's annual convocation, where his presence was not required by the statute of the institute.
Protesting against the governor's stand on the proposed nationwide NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the students surrounded his car, shouted slogans and showed him black flags when he arrived at the university around 2pm to attend a meeting of the university Court, its highest decision-making body.
Dhankar was heckled again when he was leaving the university around 2 hours later without attending the meeting due to the presence of a large number of protesting students separating the room where he had been seated and the one where the meeting was going on, officials said.
The governor was stuck amid chaos for around 30 minutes each time due to protests by the CPI(M)-backed SFI, Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU), AISA and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union (FETSU).
"After he could not attend Court meeting due to agitation by stakeholders including students and non-teaching staff, the hon'ble Chancellor called me up requesting me to hold the meeting at Raj Bhavan," Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das told reporters later.
While addressing the media through the roof screen of his car, a visibly angry Dhankhar said, “Our democracy being is chained and the rule of the law is collapsing. The university management is doing nothing at all. The state administration is doing nothing at all. All this has happened because the state has chosen to put education in captivity. It is remote controlled Vice Chancellor (Suranjan Das) who is acting in this manner. How can a hand full of employee play with the career of the students?”
“I have never seen such collapse of the law. Those who are supposed to look in to it will be held accountable. I cannot be a silent a spectator,” he added.
Dhankar said that while he is “constrained to take a call”, the Convocation cannot take place when the Chancellor was not allowed to enter the university.
Speaking on the new contentious citizenship law, the Governor added, “They are agitating against the law of the Indian parliament. The law should be respect by all. I flagged this issue to the Chief Minister that don’t spent public funds for promoting agitating against law of the land. I told her that is civil and criminal omission of duty.”
When the protesters blocked his way again when he was leaving, Dhankhar said he had a hunch that he would face protests but still decided to visit the campus to find a way out of the impasse over cancellation of the special convocation in which honorary doctoral degrees would be conferred to eminent personalities.
"I do not want your careers to be affected due to the situation. I came here to discuss with you and find a way out," he said as the 300 students gheraoed him at the stairs of the Aurobindo Bhavan.
When the students questioned him on police action at the Jamia Millia Islamia campus in Delhi, Dhankar said he is the governor of West Bengal and can answer queries about this state only.
Stating that he believes in the autonomy of educational institutes and does not work at the behest of any political party, Dhankar told them that he will be glad to sit and discuss their issues.
The university's Executive Council (EC) had on Saturday decided not to hold the special convocation in view of the threat of students' bodies to show black flag to him.
The JU authorities said it will only hold the annual ceremony in which only students will be awarded degrees and certificates. The Chancellor's presence is not required in it. After the Court meeting, the vice-chancellor said the convocation will be held as scheduled on Tuesday morning.
About the letter of the governor questioning the legality of the EC's decision, he said, "As per the statute, the Court approves EC resolution of cancelling special convocation and holding annual convocation on December 24."
He said the Court noted "with heavy heart" some observations of the Chancellor about the university and the higher education in the state, and terming the EC's annual convocation decision as illegal in his letter."
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