The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theft brings acharya Atal

Santiniketan, March 30: For two years, students and staff at Visva-Bharati have waited for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is also the chancellor, to come for the convocation.

But when vice-chancellor Sujit Basu announced today that Vajpayee would be visiting the university on April 2, it only added to their disappointment.

“As the chancellor, he is welcome to come here whenever he wants to,” said Deepak Kumar Bhagat, a student. “But it is sad that he is coming now when we are all covered with shame. We would have been happier had he come for the last two convocations.”

What has made them feel worse is that Vajpayee will again miss this year’s convocation, scheduled on April 18.

“At the request of the students, who wanted the acharya (chancellor) to hand over the degrees, we had postponed the previous two convocations,” said Visva-Bharati spokesperson Amitabha Choudhury.

“But now that he will be unable to attend the convocation this year as well, he has asked us to go ahead and hold the convocation this year so that there is no further delay in handing over the degrees and certificates to the students.”

In Calcutta, chief secretary Asok Gupta said the state government had not been informed of the visit by the Centre.

“We got the information from the Visva-Bharati authorities, who have been told about the Prime Minister’s visit from the PMO.”

According to Basu, the Prime Minister will arrive by helicopter from Calcutta around 12.45 pm. He will go to Uttarayan — the complex that houses the museum where the theft occurred — and is expected to inspect the room from where Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel medal went missing. He will leave after lunch.

A student, Shibani Mandal, said: “We wait through the year to see our acharya. Though we will see him on April 2, we will all miss him at the convocation.”

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