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Poll meeting at Lalbazar

- Presi, CU & JU attend talk

Representatives of Calcutta, Presidency and Jadavpur universities held a first-of-its-kind meeting with police officers at Lalbazar on Tuesday to discuss ways to hold students’ union elections peacefully.

The two sides exchanged information and discussed security requirements before and after the polls.

“The university representatives gave us their security requirements for the elections. We have discussed the tentative dates for the polls. The meeting was held to exchange information,” said joint commissioner (headquarters) Rajeev Mishra.

This is the first time the universities have joined hands to plan for the student union polls — including fixing the dates and arranging security — in consultation with the police. Earlier, each college would request the local police station to deploy cops outside the campus during the poll.

This time, too, the police will be posted outside the campuses. But they can enter if there is any trouble.

The election process, especially the filing of nominations, has triggered violence on campuses across the state. In February, a sub-inspector had been shot dead during the filing of nominations at Harimohan Ghose College in Garden Reach.

Soon after, the government announced a ban on campus polls for six months. The bar was lifted in September.

Tuesday’s meeting at Lalbazar, however, did not take any decision on whether the institutions would switch to online filing of nominations and scrap the traditional system.

“We have suggested that the institutions accept only online nomination as manual filing of nomination often triggers violence,” said a police source.

A Presidency official said they would accept nominations both online and offline. “Those who feel threatened can file nomination online,” the official said.

In an advisory issued in September, the government had suggested that the elections at a university and all its affiliated colleges be held on one day to minimise chances of outsiders’ interference and violence. But for CU, because of the large number of colleges affiliated to it, the police suggested that the polls be held in phases.

“It would be difficult to ensure adequate police deployment if the polls are held at all 94 colleges under CU on one day,” said an officer. The colleges are spread across Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly and South 24-Parganas — in areas under 64 police stations.

The police proposed that Presidency advance its poll date from January 31 and hold it with JU on January 28. But Presidency officials reportedly expressed their inability to hold the poll before January 31 because of exams.

The phase-wise polls on the seven campuses of CU and at the affiliated colleges, according to the proposal, will be held on January 16, 18 and 26.

Jadavpur University has its second campus in Salt Lake. The Bidhannagar commissionerate will decide on the deployment on the Salt Lake campus.

The government had suggested in advisories issued in September and November that the poll process be wrapped by January 31.