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17-hr siege of JU heads

The vice-chancellor and three other senior officials of Jadavpur University had to spend 17 hours in captivity for suspending a student found guilty of ragging, a punishable offence.

Students from various engineering departments lifted the blockade on “humanitarian ground” around 2.30pm on Thursday and allowed vice-chancellor P.N. Ghosh, pro vice-chancellor Sidhartha Dutta and two other officials to leave Aurobindo Bhavan on the campus. Ghosh and Dutta suffer from high blood pressure.

The students, however, threatened to continue with their agitation till the authorities revoked their decision, a possibility that Dutta ruled out.

“We were shocked to see the way the students kept two elderly persons — the VC and pro VC — confined for 17 hours at a stretch to press for an unjust demand,” said a teacher.

The gherao started at 8pm on Wednesday, moments after the university’s executive committee ratified its decision to suspend Rajiv Das, a third-year student of mechanical engineering, for a semester.

Kamal Krishna Halder, a first-year student of international relations, had complained that Rajiv had ragged him and beaten him up in the hostel.

All students in JU and other engineering institutions are required to give an undertaking stating that they would not take part in ragging.

“Following a Supreme Court order, the Centre and the states have enacted laws banning ragging, verbal or physical. The punishment meted out to the student is in accordance with the recommendations of the Raghavan Committee that the Centre had set up to suggest ways to curb ragging. The question of withdrawing the suspension does not arise,” said pro VC Dutta.

The authorities, he added, have decided on the six-month suspension considering the gravity of the crime.

The students, however, stressed that the protests would continue till the suspension was revoked.

“We will conduct campaigns in classes against the decision and also hold meetings to spread awareness about the issue,” said Dishari De, the assistant general secretary of the Faculty of Engineering Students’ Union.

“The accused student will lose a year. Suspension, far from discouraging ragging, kills the bonding among students. Such punitive measures had failed to stop ragging on the campus. What we need are more awareness campaigns,” Dishari said.

The defiant note apart, some students were happy with the council’s decision. “We hope the punishment will serve as an effective deterrent to the criminal offence,” said a second-year student of English honours.

Some engineering students boycotted classes on Thursday but decided to resume normal activities from Friday.

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