Ranchi, Jan. 1: Pro-domicile activists today locked up the university to protest against the appointment of an “outsider” as vice-chancellor.
At least 50 members of the Adivasi Moolwasi Janadhikar Manch, which had spearheaded the movement for the policy in July last year, stormed the Ranchi University campus around 11.30 am shouting slogans against the appointment of S.S. Kushwaha, a professor of physics at Benaras Hindu University, as vice-chancellor.
“We are putting locks on the university to convey to Governor M. Rama Jois that we are not going to accept an outsider as vice-chancellor. Let him reconsider his decision,” said an activist.
Police removed the locks as soon as the activists left the campus. University sources said Raj Bhavan officials had alerted the police on the possibility of a siege. The university had been locked up for nine days during the domestic upheaval in July.
For Kushwaha, who took over from officiating vice-chancellor Anand Bhushan, his first day in office began on a bitter note. His welcome ceremony earlier in the morning was marred, as he was kept waiting for more than 15 minutes in his car by the protesters.
Describing the demonstration as unfortunate, Kushwaha said: “The youths protesting my appointment may have a point or two, but the way they chose to register their grievance was not good. They should have waited till I assumed office and apprised me of their problems. In a democratic country, we should follow finer ways of expressing ourselves.”
Referring to the Adivasi forum’s argument that persons competent to hold the vice-chancellor’s office could be found in Jharkhand, Kushwaha said: “I do not want to say that there is no better vice-chancellor than me. Better and more competent persons can be found in Ranchi University.
“No single individual can fulfil everyone’s aspirations. But since I have been selected as the vice-chancellor, let me work and show what I can deliver in the field of education.”
Asked whether he had anticipated such a protest given the controversy over the issue, the vice-chancellor said: “I came to know of the local people’s resentment against outsiders some time ago. But I had no anticipation about what happened this morning.”
“Tribals have sacrificed a lot for the creation of Jharkhand and they have every right to have their say but that does not mean an outsider is their enemy. Education is a transcendental faculty of human civilisation and it does not identify the regional boundaries,” he added.
Kushwaha said there was no space for regionalism in an institution that professed to be progressive.
“If we continue to be entangled in the quagmire of regionalism, we cannot look forward to the development which is expected from an academic institution as big and renowned as Ranchi University.”