The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe soother for JU

Calcutta, June 14: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government and the CPM leadership today moved to defuse the growing anger on the Jadavpur University campus, primarily to disarm the Opposition which tried to tap the student unrest.

Responding to almost identical suggestions from the university, the CPM and its student wing, SFI, the government ordered the setting up of a truth committee to examine the circumstances that led to the June 10 police crackdown on students fasting in protest against the suspension of five of their own.

“Sending police to educational institutions is not my government’s policy, nor is it a pleasant thing to do,” said Bhattacharjee who had declined yesterday to meet a students’ delegation carrying a memorandum protesting against the police action.

“In light of the vice-chancellor’s request, I have set up a committee headed by a senior official to determine why and in what circumstances the police action took place,” Bhattacharjee said.

Vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu had requested the chief minister to open a probe into reports of police excess and to punish offenders, if warranted.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas and Bhattacharjee held a meeting at the party headquarters to determine the stand. Later, Biswas said he had requested the government to hold an inquiry to find out if there was police excess.

“We are disturbed at the way certain quarters are trying to politicise the situation at Jadavpur University which is one of the country’s finest institutions,” said Biswas.

“Those who are trying to derive political mileage do not seem to be aware of the impact politicisation of the incident will have on the students’ future,” the man known as Bengal’s education czar added.

Following the script penned by Bhattacharjee, the vice-chancellor formed a panel of teachers to talk to the agitating students grouped under Fetsu (Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union) and a few other bodies.

“Let me see how things work out. If the differences can be sorted out at a lower level, my intervention will not be necessary,” Bhattacharjee said.

The SFI joined the chorus with general secretary Apurba Chatterjee condemning the police action, though the union also said it would not support the protesting students’ cause. An SFI team submitted a memorandum to the chief minister’s secretariat.

Today’s change of tune followed a threat by the All-India Democratic Students’ Organisation, an affiliate of the SUCI, to start an agitation. There were other compelling reasons, too, such as the graduate admission season that has begun and the civic elections in Calcutta and Salt Lake next Sunday.

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