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Campus rage disrupts exam

Guwahati, Sept. 11: Gauhati University turned into a crucible of anger today with over 10,000 students of colleges affiliated to the institution storming the campus to demand vice-chancellor G.N. Talukdar’s resignation.

It was not the first time in recent months that Talukdar, whose ability to manage the institution has often been questioned, faced a crowd of students demanding his ouster. But the demonstration this morning was by far the fieriest.

Students from all 11 districts under the jurisdiction of Gauhati University assembled at the Uzan Bazar office of the All Assam Students Union before heading for the campus in a procession. On reaching their destination, the protesters laid siege to the main administrative building and the vice-chancellor’s chamber.

The students shouted slogans against Talukdar and asked for his resignation immediately. Student leaders from various districts threatened to intensify the agitation if the vice-chancellor did not step down “voluntarily”.

University registrar R.N. Das said the protest was not only ill-timed but also disorderly. He said the protesters disturbed students who were sitting for their semester examinations. “Many examinees complained that they were unable to concentrate because of the slogan-shouting. The use of loudspeakers added to the cacophony.”

Several teachers said they were disappointed with AASU for organising a protest on the campus in the midst of an examination. But AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya claimed that the agitation was peaceful. He said the sooner the vice-chancellor resigned, the better it would be for the institution.

Bhattacharyya accused Talukdar of playing with the careers of thousands of students by delaying examinations and not accepting responsibility for glaring mistakes in the evaluation process. He said anomalies in the BA, BSc and BCom results had proved that the vice-chancellor “neither wants to correct himself, nor let another person head the prestigious university”.

The AASU adviser said mismanagement by Talukdar had reduced the premier university of the Northeast into a shadow of its previous self.

The university registrar, however, claimed that “maximum caution” had been taken while tabulating results and preparing marksheets of students who sat for BA, BSc and BCom examinations. “But if mistakes have been made along the way, the university is ready to correct these errors.”

Not convinced by the explanations, Bhattacharyya said today’s protest was just the curtain-raiser for a long agitation. He said a delegation from the student organisation met Governor Ajai Singh on Saturday and urged him to replace the vice-chancellor.

“We reminded Lt Gen. (retd) Singh, who is also the chancellor of the university, of the need to streamline the administrative set-up of the institution,” Bhattacharyya added.

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