Bengal TMCP chief Shankudeb Panda (hand raised) leads a protest outside the syndicate room of Calcutta University on Wednesday. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya
Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) supporters, led by its state president Shankudeb Panda, barged into the Calcutta University main campus and disrupted a syndicate meeting by shouting anti-CPM slogans for more than three hours on Wednesday.
The syndicate is the highest policy-making body of the university.
“I have never heard of such an agitation in the 158-year-old history of the university,” said a senior teacher.
Witnesses said a large number of TMCP supporters marched into the College Street campus, entered Darbhanga Building and ran up the stairs before squatting in front of the syndicate room shouting slogans.
“CPM-er kalo haat bhenge dao, gunriye dao,” they kept shouting, while the security staff and other employees of the university kept watching.
In the group were some local Trinamul leaders, including Chinu Hazra and Debashis Banerjee, who were seen outside Presidency University while a gang carrying Trinamul flags went on a rampage inside.
Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das refused to comment on the incident. A senior official who refused to be named said the university had no information that the TMCP would hold such a demonstration.
Usually, a group needs to take permission to hold a sit-in in Darbhanga Building.
The TMCP demonstration began around 5pm, when the syndicate meeting started, too.
An hour before the TMCP agitation, education minister Partha Chatterjee had told reporters on the Assembly premises that he would ask all student bodies to desist from organising demonstrations at educational institutions.
“The students must stop disruptive agitations,” Chatterjee had said.
The TMCP organised the demonstration at CU apparently to counter an agitation by a group of teachers backed by the pro-CPM Calcutta University Teachers’ Association (Cuta). While Panda and his group were shouting slogans in front of the syndicate room, the Cuta supporters were holding a demonstration outside Darbhanga Building.
The TMCP demanded that Cuta be banned and the authorities take action against Roshanara Mishra, a teacher in the physiology department of the university and the daughter of the Opposition leader in the Assembly, Surya Kanta Mishra.
They alleged that Roshanara Mishra had entered the syndicate room while the meeting was in progress despite not being a member of the syndicate. “The authorities must explain on what capacity did Roshanara Mishra enter the syndicate room,” said Panda.
Roshanara Mishra, however, denied having entered the syndicate room.
The Cuta supporters, on the other hand, demanded proper security for the teachers of the university’s Rajabajar science college. The TMCP has been “harassing” and “threatening” a section of teachers at the college, the protesters alleged.
When told about the complaint that some TMCP supporters had tried to prevent Roshanara Mishra from leaving her department, education minister Chatterjee said: “I believe political colour is being added to the whole incident. I have sought a report from VC on the issue.”
A CU official said the syndicate meeting was disrupted because of the TMCP’s sloganeering. Cuta general secretary Sankhayan Choudhury said they would meet the VC on Thursday and demand security for teachers on all campuses.