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Upgrade cry on campus
- Shibpur teachers, students draw up unrest agenda

Crown us with Institute of National Importance (INI) status, or else we’ll go on strike — students and teachers of Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu) have sounded a clarion call.

The teachers’ body at the state’s oldest engineering college has even set a deadline for INI status, enjoyed by the Indian institutes of technology (IIT), for Besu.

“We want a decision by October 30 on the upgrade issue. We want the Centre to make the declaration by November 24, when our 150-year celebrations will start,” Sujay Mukherjea, secretary, Besu Teachers’ Association, told Metro.

If the deadline is not met, the Shibpur campus will witness sit-ins, processions, mass casual leave and an indefinite hunger strike.

And, for once, the campus of unrest stands united. The students’ union has joined hands with the teachers’ body.

In a countdown, Bengal Engineering College Students’ Union is organising a convention on Thursday: History: To Create or To Become.

“We will form a sub-committee to decide on the day-to-day agitation programme,” said Manas Hira, former secretary of the teachers’ association, pressing for the upgrade, pending since 2005.

The Anandakrishnan committee, appointed to chalk out the upgrade roadmap, had ranked Besu first among seven institutes in the running.

But to set the ball rolling, Besu and the Union ministry of human resource development need the state government’s response on the two contentious issues of governance and student intake.

The state government is not doing its bit for the institution, allege teachers on campus.

State higher education minister Sudarshan Roychowdhuri has convened a meeting with the teachers’ body on October 16 to discuss the issue.

“The state seems to be pushing for a higher grant from the Centre, keeping the issue of upgrade on the backburner,” said Manas Hira, former secretary of the teachers’ association, after an emergency meeting late on Wednesday.

Mukherjea added the punchline: “The state government is not too keen to upgrade Besu. But we will not accept this on any count.”

The Anandakrishnan committee has also recommended a new brand name — Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (IIEST) — for the upgraded varsities to access recurring funds and a new system of governance, touted as “better than IIT”.

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