| A deserted classroom at Jadavpur University, where agitating students boycotted the semester examinations. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadyaya
The campus conflict at Jadavpur University took a serious turn on Monday, with most students of the faculty of engineering and technology boycotting the first day of the semester examinations.
'Not a single student sat for the examinations on the main campus. Apart from a few final-year candidates, even the Salt Lake campus boycotted the examinations,' said Amit Chakraborty, general secretary of the faculty of engineering and technology students' union (Fetsu).
According to university officials, the semester examinations are scheduled till May 17, and there are a total of 1,800 examinees. On the Salt Lake campus, which has five departments under the faculty of engineering and technology, only 162 fourth-year students sat for the exams. First year and fourth-year students had exams scheduled on Monday, while the third-year papers start from Tuesday.
'This students' movement is disruptive of academic activity, especially since we have not yet taken any action against the five showcaused students; we have just asked them why we should not take action against them,' said registrar Rajat Bandopadhyay.
'We asked them to submit their reply to us, in keeping with the democratic spirit' We have conducted the examinations for them, but they have decided not to sit for them,' he added.
'It is unfortunate that some students who wanted to appear for the examinations were not allowed to enter the hall by Fetsu supporters. Some teachers were also stopped,' Bandopadhyay alleged.
Fetsu representatives protested the registrar's allegation. 'The authorities had, in fact, given the final-year students 15 minutes' time before today's examination to reconsider their decision, since it would affect them the most, but not a single student backed down. This proves beyond doubt that nobody was forced into the examination boycott,' said Fetsu vice-chairman Somnath Ghosh.
'There was no question of stopping any of the teachers from going to the examination halls, and any allegation made by anybody to that effect is entirely false,' he added.
On a day that Fetsu representatives submitted another memorandum to the vice- chancellor, the science faculty students' union (Sfsu) decided to mount pressure by boycotting classes indefinitely and hinting that it, too, would take the examination boycott route if the present impasse continued.
One act of the campus battle was played out at Calcutta High Court on Monday. Justice A.K. Mitra directed Samrat Roy Chowdhury, fourth-year student of civil engineering, to reply within three days to the showcause slapped on him for his alleged role in violence at the varsity.
The judge, however, restrained the authorities from giving effect to a decision against Roy Chowdhury without prior leave of the court. The student had challenged the showcause notice and the hearing has been fixed after seven days.