Jadavpur University (JU) authorities struck back on Tuesday by formally suspending the five show-caused students.
The decision was taken by the executive council, the university's apex decision-making body, after a five-hour meeting.
'The council met today at 11 am to discuss the replies handed over by the five students, and it decided to suspend all of them,' said registrar Rajat Bandopadhyay. 'We have treated them as sympathetically as the situation has allowed us to.'
Arnab Roy Choudhury and Samrat Roychoudhury, both final-year students of civil engineering, were suspended for the current semester.
Though they will not be allowed to appear for the ongoing semester exams, they can take a special supplementary test that will be held two months later.
Third-year students Arun Kumar Majumdar (electrical engineering) and Satadal Chakraborty (mechanical engineering) were suspended for two semesters, while Sudipta Sarkar, final-year mechanical engineering student, was suspended for four semesters.
The action caught the agitating members of the faculty of engineering and technology students' union (Fetsu) off guard.
'We succeeded in making the authorities revoke the recommendation to expel the five students, but the fresh decision has come as a surprise. We strongly condemn this step since it is clearly aimed at victimising individual students for an incident in which at least 250 others were also present,' said Amit Chakraborty, general secretary, Fetsu.
'We will continue with our boycott of the semester exams and discuss ways to intensify our agitation,' he added.
Fetsu went into a huddle after the decision was announced, with general body meetings continuing till late evening. More discussions would be held through the night and on Wednesday.
JU authorities declared last Thursday that the executive committee would meet on Tuesday, apparently after one of the five students, Arnab Roychoudhury, had given the vice-chancellor a letter admitting he had been involved in the September 2003 agitation and apologised for his role in the affair. His mother, the letter stated, was ill and her health had been hit by his involvement in the agitation.
'We don't know for sure whether Arnab submitted any letter of that sort, but it is possible. Even if he did, we are sure there must be considerable pressure on him to stay away from the students' movement on campus,' a Fetsu representative said.