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CU gets first gherao ‘gift’ from principals in 150 years

Calcutta, May 15: An alleged slap has made 16 principals borrow a weapon usually wielded by students and break a 150-year tradition.

Principals of 16 colleges affiliated to Calcutta University today gheraoed the office of its vice-chancellor for over two hours demanding a meeting with him.

They wanted to know why there was a delay in disclosing the findings of an inquiry committee probing the suspension of Kalachand Saha, the principal of Andul College.

They started the sit-in — the first by principals in the 150-year history of the university — after Asis Kumar Banerjee refused to meet them.

The heads are all members of the West Bengal Council of College Principals, a powerful state-level lobby controlled by the CPM.

“We were shocked at the way the vice-chancellor treated us. We wanted to get a clear picture about the inquiry report but despite earnest requests, the vice-chancellor refused to spare even a few minutes,” said Gyanankur Goswami, principal of Shyamaprasad College and the council’s president. “Never in the past have principals of colleges been insulted in this way.”

Saha, who is the council’s general secretary, was suspended in October following complaints that he had slapped a teacher of his college.

Saha claimed he hit the teacher after an allegation was levelled that the former principal had misappropriated college funds. The teacher also insulted him in public, Saha had said.

After Saha’s suspension, the council had lodged a complaint with the university opposing the order and demanding an inquiry. On the basis of their complaint, a probe was initiated in December.

The gherao was lifted after members of the syndicate — the highest policy-making body of the university — promised that the inquiry report would be placed at its next meeting.

Shyamapada Pal, a syndicate member, said the issue would soon be discussed for an amicable settlement. The vice-chancellor refused to comment on the matter.

The agitating principals included those from Surendranath College, Bangabasi College, Khidderpore College, Umesh Chandra College and Kashiswari College.

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