| SPELL CHECK: Jadavpur University agitators challenge the authorities to expell (sic) them, in solidarity with the five students thrown out on Tuesday. Picture by Aranya Sen
Jadavpur University (JU), faced with the prospect of a prolonged student agitation, on Wednesday softened its stand on the fate of the five expelled students and slapped on them a showcause notice.
'If the five students named in the Prof Amit Sen inquiry commission report (and accused of misbehaviour during an agitation in 2003) apologise for their misconduct, their appeal (not to be expelled) will be considered favourably,' said Rajat Bandyopadhyay, registrar.
'Arnab Roy Choudhury, Satadal Chakraborty, Sudipta Sarkar, Samrat Roychoudhury and Arun Kumar Majumdar will have to reply within three days. We don't treat our students like criminals and we do not think of ourselves as the police,' the registrar added.
The report, submitted on March 15, was discussed at an executive council meeting on Tuesday. It was noted that the commission had 'unequivocally found a section of students guilty of gross indiscipline, using abusive language and violence on officers and teachers, and creating an atmosphere of terror' on campus.
When the report was placed before the executive council meeting on Tuesday, with the sole exception of a student representative, members unanimously decided to expel the five students named in it.
The authorities announced that in the wake of recurrent violence on the campus, a code of conduct, as suggested in the commission's report, would be formulated.
Students will have to sign an undertaking that they will not break the code, which is likely to be implemented from the 2005-06 academic session.
Engineering and technology faculty students boycotted classes on the Jadavpur and Salt Lake campuses, and were joined later in the day by peers from the science department.
They expressed 'deep shock' at the manner in which the authorities were dealing with the five students, some of whom had already landed jobs in reputable firms.
'We had gone to submit a memorandum to the vice-chancellor, stating that the executive council's recommendation to expel the five students is undemocratic and infringes on the students' fundamental rights,' said Amit Chakraborty, general secretary of the faculty of engineering and technology students' union (Fetsu). 'It is a blatant attempt to sabotage the students' movement through covert intimidation,' he added.
'The vice-chancellor, however, refused to formally accept our memorandum today, so we have decided to submit it to him on Monday, when the university reopens after the four-day break,' he added.
The students will then decide on their course of action.