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30-hour gherao of teachers jolts JU

Student unrest rocked Jadavpur University (JU) on Tuesday as agitations to introduce a system of supplementary examinations after each semester in the engineering department gripped the campus.

Engineering students gheraoed vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu and 20 other senior teachers and officials of the university since Monday evening. Basu and the others forced their way out through the cordon late on Tuesday.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s convoy was also stopped by a group of agitating students on Raja Subodh Mullick Road on Tuesday evening. The chief minister was returning after attending a public meeting at Bagha Jatin.

Teachers said 30-hour-long negotiations with students finally threw up a formula acceptable to the agitators. “But, when we were about to leave for home, the students suddenly refused to lift the gherao and things were back to square one. We then decided enough is enough, we will go home,” said Supriya Chaudhuri, one of the senior teachers subjected to the gherao.

Teachers later alleged they were abused and assaulted by a section of students while they were on their way out. “We were shocked at the students’ behaviour. They (students) did not even spare the elderly teachers who had been taken ill because of the prolonged confinement,” another teacher said.

Students, on the other hand, alleged that a large number of employees belonging to the CPM-controlled Karmachari Sansad threatened them with dire consequences and ordered them to leave the protest site. “They severely beat us up when we refused to take their orders as our demand was genuine,” said Sudipto Sarkar, general secretary of the engineering and technology students’ union.

The students also alleged that when they were returning to their hostel after withdrawing the gherao, the authorities called in the police. “The police arrived and resorted to a lathicharge outside the campus. Our union leaders were taken to the police station and detained there,” said a student.

Additional superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, R.K. Singh denied that students were either lathicharged or detained.

Classes remained suspended throughout Tuesday as senior officials and teachers of the university failed to come to an agreement with the agitating students, demanding supplementary exams to enable a student to clear a semester backlog.

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