Student union poll is not the only excuse for stoking campus unrest in Calcutta, as was evident at the West Bengal University of Technology on Tuesday.
A handful of contractual workers of the Salt Lake university, allegedly backed by Trinamul, held vice-chancellor Samir Banerjee hostage for six hours during the day, resulting in a delay in the publication of results of around 1,40,000 students.
A meeting of the executive council of the university, called on Tuesday to endorse the results, had to be cancelled as Banerjee was not allowed to step out of his room. The results were scheduled to be announced on February 21.
“Today’s meeting of the executive council had to be called off as I was unable to chair it. The meeting was crucial as it was to take up the results which we had decided to announce on Thursday,” Banerjee said after he was allowed to leave at 5pm.
“The next meeting cannot be called before 21 days (the minimum gap between two executive council meetings, as mentioned in the university statute). I will call an emergency meeting of university officials tomorrow to decide the revised date of the publication of the results.”
Sources said results can be announced only after they are endorsed by the executive council, comprising university and government officials and representatives of private engineering colleges.
The group of 28 contractual employees — mostly lower division clerks and Group D workers — laid siege to the VC’s room around 11am, moments after Banerjee had stepped in.
The employees had been demanding permanent berths. “Most of us have been working here for more than eight years but we don’t get the same benefits as permanent employees. The executive council has never discussed the issue. We want our concerns to be addressed immediately,” said Manik Das, a leader of WBUT Contractual Employees’ Association, which is being supported by the Trinamul-dominated WBUT Shiksha Bandhu Samity.
The agitators sat outside Banerjee’s room and shouted slogans. They stopped Banerjee when he tried to leave his office to chair the executive council meeting in an adjacent room.
Officials said 19 of the 24 members of the council had turned up. They went back after waiting for hours, without discussing any topic of the agenda.“We will have to send letters to all the members, informing them of the new date of the meeting,” said Banerjee.
Sources said the authorities had made it mandatory for senior officials to turn up on Wednesday despite the strike to attend a meeting to decide the next date of the announcement of the results.
Tuesday’s demonstration proved yet again how indifferent the various mass organisations, backed by political parties, are to interests of students. “We are the sufferers. If the publication of results is deferred, our season, too, will be delayed,” said a computer science student.