The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trouble scars on truce campus

The deadlock in Jadavpur University has ended, but enough damage has been done.

Following the intervention of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the CPM-controlled Jadavpur University Karmachari Samsad called off its ceasework on Thursday evening.

The strike was withdrawn after the authorities accepted the employees’ demand to set up a one-man inquiry commission headed by Ashoke Mohan Chakraborty, additional chief secretary (in charge of higher education department), to probe the violence that rocked the campus on April 5. More than 1,500 employees of the university had been boycotting work since April 6.

The truce comes after the campus has paid a heavy price for the week-long impasse. Classes and class tests have been suspended, research projects stalled and ongoing campus placement schedules thrown haywire.

The April-June period is crucial for campus placements. “We are extremely worried about the situation on campus. It is a matter of serious concern as these incidents of violence and boycott send out wrong messages to companies keen to recruit students from Jadavpur University. We are in talks with some big companies so that they conduct campus interviews for final-year students as soon as possible,” said Siddhartha Bhattacharya, officer of placement and training.

Final-year students claimed companies like Infosys and Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS), who were supposed to conduct interviews on Wednesday and Thursday, have deferred them due to the campus unrest.

Only Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has already completed campus interviews and recruited nearly 453 students from Jadavpur.

According to Bhattacharya, the recent image of Jadavpur University as a troubled campus could have far-reaching implications. “It is going to be difficult for the university to attract the companies if recurrence of such incidents is not checked,” warned the placement and training officer. “Companies get a negative impression of the students’ attitude and also about the work atmosphere on campus.”

Research activities on campus have also taken a hit with scholars and teachers unable to maintain their schedule. All laboratories, workshops and libraries have been under lock and key for a week now, scuttling research work.

“Jadavpur University has earned quite a reputation for its success in conducting research in engineering, science and some arts subjects. Research projects worth nearly Rs 55 crore are being pursued on campus,” said Parthapratim Biswas, senior teacher and member of the executive council.

“Research activities are bound to suffer if normal functioning of the university is affected in this manner,” he added.

The spectre of future unrest loomed over the varsity even on Thursday with Swapan Ghosh, general secretary of the Karmachari Samsad, stating that the authorities must complete the inquiry within a stipulated period, failing which members of the employees’ unit would be “compelled” to renew their agitation.

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