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Hotline counter to online complaint

Calcutta University on Friday asked its students to air their grievances on a website instead of harassing teachers, a move Trinamul student leader Shankudeb Panda threatened to counter with “a hotline the moment CU goes online”.

Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das announced that the university would make it “compulsory for student unions to bring their grievances to the authorities’ notice by lodging complaints on a new website” that is expected to be launched on September 5.

The online complaint system was decided to stop disruptive activities such as gherao of principals and teachers, class boycotts and agitations.

Hours after Das’s announcement, Panda declared that minutes after CU launches its website on September 5 the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) would launch a hotline.

Panda said the hotline would serve the same purpose as the CU website — curb incidents of disturbances at colleges because of student agitations. He said the hotline would be a faster device for receiving complaints and more effective than a website.

Panda’s promise came as a surprise because he has been at the forefront of many incidents of campus trouble, a Calcutta University teacher said.

“Once the website is launched, complaints from students would be regularly monitored by the university’s inspector of colleges. He will examine the grievances immediately and recommend suitable measures to the authorities concerned. If the problem is about academic matters, the issue will be referred to the pro-vice-chancellor academic,” he said.

Panda’s hotline will connect all college students’ unions affiliated to the party with the TMCP headquarters.

“If there is trouble at a college, students would have to send an SMS to the headquarters giving details of the incident through the hotline. As soon as we receive a message, our team of leaders would rush to the university and inform the officials about the trouble. They will seek their help to address the students’ demands… and this I think will promptly bring the situation under control,” the TMCP leader said.

Panda said the online system of receiving complaints would “hardly serve the purpose” because addressing grievances could take a “long time”.

Vice-chancellor Das declined comment on Panda’s “hotline”.

Higher education minister Partha Chatterjee has been consistently expressing concern over campus disruptions because student agitations. Panda has shown scant regard for Chatterjee’s sermons, university officials said.

On Wednesday, Chatterjee had requested college and university heads not to “bow down to” militant-style student protests.

“The minister has rightly said at various programmes that there was a need to improve the environment on college campuses. We cannot ban gheraos and agitations by students since these are part of their democratic rights. They can exercise their rights through a democratic process by informing the university before disrupting classes,” vice-chancellor Das said.