The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha snubs JU students

Calcutta, June 13: A day after Jyoti Basu and the governor frowned on the administration’s handling of the Jadavpur University agitation, neither the government nor the protesting students’ group was ready to soften its approach.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee refused to meet a team of student leaders at Writers’ Buildings and the university authorities insisted on an end to the agitation before any talks. The students called for top officials’ heads.

Five leaders of the university’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union (Fetsu) arrived at Writers’ Buildings with a memorandum for the chief minister only to be kept waiting for half an hour before being told that Bhattacharjee was too busy to meet them.

The students left after handing the memorandum to the chief minister’s private secretary, Sailesh Mukherjee.

Bhattacharjee later said he was trying to bring normality back on the campus. “I had a few rounds of discussion on the last two days’ developments with the vice-chancellor, Ashok Nath Basu. Steps are being taken to normalise the academic atmosphere on the campus as early as possible,” he told reporters.

The campus continued to simmer as teachers joined the agitators in condemning Friday night’s police caning of students fasting in protest against the suspension of five seniors.

“We will not withdraw our movement until all our demands are met. We want unconditional withdrawal of the suspensions,” said Somnath Ghosh, Fetsu vice-president. “The vice-chancellor and registrar must resign and a departmental inquiry must be held into the police action.”

University officials gave governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the chancellor, hourly bulletins on the day’s developments. Registrar Rajat Banerjee, however, repeated that the authorities would consider the students’ demands only if they called off their agitation.

The governor and Jyoti Basu had yesterday said the students should have been gently persuaded to end their agitation instead of being baton-charged.

Today’s science semester exams were disrupted by a boycott while arts students wrote their tests wearing black badges. Fetsu remained firm on boycotting the engineering exams scheduled to begin on June 15.

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