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Timetable today: gherao teachers, riot...

Barasat, Sept. 4: Students and guardians today confined the teacher-in-charge and 25 teachers of a North 24-Parganas college to a room for over five hours, switched off the institution’s power connection, turned off the water supply and disconnected telephone lines.

A section of college students said the 100-odd protesters — those who failed to get admission to undergraduate courses and their guardians — had the backing of the Chhatra Parishad and the SFI, a charge the Congress and CPM unions denied.

The siege on Chandraketugarh Sahidullah Memorial College in Deganga came on the heels of withering comments made by the governor on campus violence.

After students were accused of assaulting the teacher-in-charge of another college in the same district on Saturday, M.K. Narayanan had said “the students should be beaten up”.

Yesterday, the governor, who is the chancellor of all state-run universities, had said he did not want politics in student union elections. “I just can’t imagine in my time when I was a student…. students beating a teacher,” Narayanan had said.

The teacher-in-charge of Chandraketugarh Sahidullah Memorial College, Supriya Dutta, said the protesters barged into her chamber around 2pm and demanded that all applicants be admitted.

“I told them that all 800 seats had been filled up and we had requested the education department to sanction more seats. We are yet to hear from the education department. We have a meeting with department officials next week,” Dutta said.

The protesters refused to listen and confined to the teacher-in-charge’s chamber Dutta and 25-odd teachers who had gathered hearing the din.

A teacher said: “The protesters yanked the telephone lines, switched off the main power supply and turned off the stopcock of the water reservoir on the roof. We called up Deganga police station from our cellphones and a team arrived around 4.30pm.”

After around two-and-a-half hours of negotiations between the agitators and the police, the gherao was lifted around 7.30pm, said Bhaskar Mukherjee, the district additional superintendent of police.

Asgar Ali, one of the protesters, said: “My house is 5km from the college. If I don’t get admission here, I will have to travel 25km to Barasat or Basirhat because there is no other college in Deganga. If I get admission here, I will be able to save a lot of money on bus fare.”

Chhatra Parishad and SFI leaders distanced themselves from the agitation.

“None of our members were involved in the protest,” said Sheikh Nurujjaman, the secretary of the college’s Chhatra Parishad unit.

The SFI secretary of North 24-Parganas, Ayan Basu, said: “We are a minority in the college. It is not possible for us to organise such an agitation.”

An education department official said a college seeking to increase the number of seats had to apply to the higher education council. The council recommends to the department if the request should be accepted.

The official said he was not aware of any such recommendation in case of the Deganga college.

“Undergraduate classes have already started. Why is the college seeking permission to increase seats now?” he said.