Calcutta, June 12: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government today faced an outcry over the police action on fasting students at Jadavpur University.
Former chief minister Jyoti Basu himself criticised the action that began at Friday midnight. “It (police action) should not have happened in the first place. They (the fasting students) should have been persuaded to call off the agitation and then shifted to hospital,” Basu said.
Disturbed over the incident, governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who is the chancellor, sought an explanation from the university.
“The students could have been gently persuaded to give up the agitation and shifted to hospital,” senior officials quoted the governor as telling vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu at Raj Bhavan.
“What made the university authorities call in the police at such a time'” the governor is said to have asked.
“We will submit a report to the governor, if required,” said home secretary Amit Kiran Deb who had green-signalled the police action after the university sought help.
The chief minister and most other CPM leaders would find it difficult to support the crackdown because of their known opposition to using the police to break up student agitations.
“The issue concerns the chancellor and university. We hope they will address it with sincerity,” said Anil Biswas, state CPM secretary.
The students were protesting against the suspension of five students for allegedly assaulting some senior university officials in 2003.
Apparently, concerned at the students’ health, the university sought administrative help. A police officer said when the forces arrived, the students hurled bricks provoking the baton-charge.
“If there was police excess, it is both unfortunate and must be condemned,” the vice-chancellor said.
The university said it was ready to consider their demand for calling off the suspension if the agitation was withdrawn. The students asked the vice-chancellor to put the offer down in writing.