Jadavpur University (JU), one of India’s five acknowledged institutions of excellence, slid further into a campus of chaos on Thursday with teachers and employees squaring off against a section of engineering and technology students.
The students had, since Monday, launched a violent agitation demanding an examination-related concession, which led to the closure of all engineering and technology departments.
On Thursday, the teachers condemned the agitating students in a meeting and stayed away from class, in a way lending support to officers and supervisory staff of the departments who held a sit-in, in keeping with their loyalty to the CPM-controlled employees’ union.
“We had no other option but to go in for a counter-agitation against the students,” said deputy registrar Subir Chakraborty who also participated in Thursday’s campaign. “The way they (the students) behaved and assaulted our senior teachers and executives on Tuesday night was reprehensible.”
The action of the teachers and officers, however, did anything but push the students on the defensive. They, too, boycotted class and launched a fresh round of agitation, the first step to which was a relay hunger-strike commencing later on Thursday.
The relay hunger strike would go on till September 23, announced Sudipto Sarkar, general secretary of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union.
The latest twist in the campus-conflict tale put paid to all hopes of an early settlement the prospects of which had brightened with a deceptive calm having descended on the JU campus on Wednesday, a holiday for Viswakarma puja.
The teachers, mostly affiliated to the anti-CPM Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA), also blamed the university authorities for the current impasse and said their changing of the examination system without taking into account the views of the teachers and students, had first sparked the unrest.
On Monday night, the students gheraoed vice-chancellor Ashok Nath Basu and 20 other teachers and officers to press for their demand for holding special supplementary examinations after announcement of results of each semester examination. This, they argued, would enable students to clear the backlog after each semester.
The students said they were firm in their decision to continue their movement till the authorities met their demand and re-introduced the earlier practice of special supplementary exams for failed students after each semester, instead of the present one year lag.
A prominent lobby of officers and supervisory staff of Calcutta University had, on Thursday, despatched a senior representative to participate in the JU sit-in to express solidarity with their counterparts. Nitish Biswas, representing the West Bengal University Officers and Supervisory Staff Association, said they would urge the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to step in and break the deadlock at the university that had bagged five stars in the University Grants Commission books.