|Trinamul Chhatra Parishad students block the Gour Banga gate.
Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, July 26: Students affiliated to the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad today locked the Gour Banga University, starting an indefinite protest demanding a new vice-chancellor because the current administrator had not attended office for nearly three months.
Vice-chancellor Achinta Biswas, who joined in May 2012, has not attended office since April 28, according to officials in the university, set up by the former Left Front government in 2007.
According to them, he came to the varsity on July 2 and left the next day.
The Trinamul Chhatra Parishad has said it would keep the university shut if a new vice-chancellor is not appointed.
Prasenjit Das, the district president of the Trinamul student outfit, said that the long absence of the vice-chancellor was hampering administrative and academic work at the varsity.
“The absence of the vice-chancellor is hampering the admission to the post-graduate courses,” Das said.
“Future of the students is in jeopardy because of the vice-chancellor’s absence. We demand that he either join work or resign. We have no need for a head of institution who is indifferent towards his responsibilities…. Our agitation will continue till the vice-chancellor is replaced,” he said.
Vice-chancellor Biswas, when contacted by the Metro today, said: “I had tried hard to work, but I am not being allowed to. Moreover, I have health problems and have to travel to Chennai regularly. I have informed about my condition to the chancellor (the governor) in writing. I have expressed my wish not to remain with Gour Banga University any longer and requested that I be relieved from the post. The governor has replied saying I should continue till a replacement is sent.”
The varsity’s abrupt closure has happened in the middle of admission to post-graduate courses. Sources said several students who had come to take forms today, had to return home.
Over 3,000 post-graduate students study in Gour Banga. The varsity has under it colleges of three districts — Malda, where it is located, and North and South Dinajpurs.
According to sources in the varsity, its executive council, which takes all major administrative decisions, had not met for over a year. “After the present vice-chancellor suddenly left on April 28, the higher education department handed over temporary charge to our head of the department of Bengali, Bikash Roy. On July 2, Biswas came to the varsity but left Malda for Calcutta on July 3. Since then he has not returned,” a teacher said.
The acting registrar, Shyamsunder Bairagya, said: “Without a vice-chancellor we are facing administrative problems. There are 26 teachers whose posts need to be regularised and that cannot be done without the vice-chancellor. Also, funds for setting up laboratories cannot be sanctioned as the vice-chancellor is the chairman of the finance committee,” he said.
Around 10am today, the Trinamul Chattra Parishad members, numbering around 100, arrived at the university gate and locked it up. Teachers, staff and students were not allowed to enter the premises. The gate was unlocked around 2pm, but no work happened for the rest of the day.
The protest seems to have the blessings of Malda’s two senior Trinamul leaders.
“The students will naturally resort to protests as the university is suffering because of the absence of the vice-chancellor. I have told our higher education minister, Bratya Basu, to appoint someone who will remain in Malda and run the varsity. We will not tolerate anybody running the varsity from Calcutta,” minister Krishnendu Chowdhury said.
Sabitri Mitra, who is the district president of Trinamul, said Basu would solve the problem soon. “I have spoken to Bratya Basu and he has promised to find a new and efficient vice-chancellor soon,” she said.
Achinta Biswas had succeeded Gopa Dutta, the second vice-chancellor of Gour Banga who resigned from her post in March 2012 after the Mamata Banerjee government dissolved the varsity executive committee and nominated new faces in the committee.
Dutta, however, cited ill health as the reason for quitting.
Back in March 2012, a teacher had said on condition of anonymity that since the new government came to power, Dutta had been facing rude behaviour from a section of teachers and non-teaching staff.
“She had to hear abusive language and this could also be one of the reasons why she wants out. She had also complained to the education minister, Bratya Basu, about these incidents,” the teacher had said.