The Telegraph
Saturday , August 12 , 2017

Survival kit for a JU siege

- Officials hostage for 30 hrs & counting

Jadavpur University students agitate outside Aurobindo Bhavan, the university's administrative headquarters, on Friday. Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Aug. 11: Blood pressure pills: check. Insulin shot: check. Antacids: check. Mobile charger: check. Change for the night: check. Dental kit: check. Bedtime read: check.

A check list fit for a trip today kept the vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University and several of his colleagues logistically prepared for another night of being held hostage by students.

As the siege dragged into the night, vice-chancellor Suranjan Das considered whether it would be more comfortable to sleep on a mat rather than the sofa in the pro-vice chancellor's office room that was his bed on Thursday. With him in the administrative building were at least 11 teachers and some officials, all of whom had apparently come armed with whatever they would need to get through their second night in captivity.

In being prepared for what the students had planned to subject them to, teachers and officials at Jadavpur University might have even won a small victory in the battle between patience and persistence.

"When I reached the campus on Thursday to attend a meeting of the executive council, I was prepared for the night. I had a major surgery recently; so I packed all the medicines that I would need for the night. I can stay back another night because I am prepared with two sets of clothing," Samita Sen, dean of interdisciplinary studies, said this afternoon.

Students of Jadavpur University are opposed to the state government's decision to make campus polls "apolitical". On Wednesday, they demanded that the executive council adopt a resolution declaring the government's move as "undemocratic.

Sen and her colleagues knew it would not be possible for the executive council to adopt any such resolution. And going by the university's history of students holding the administration hostage, they were right about a backlash too.

Being the lone woman caught in the siege, Sen was offered the privacy of the vice-chancellor's office room on Thursday night. The pro vice-chancellor slept in his ante chamber while the rest made makeshift sleeping arrangements in the conference room on the ground floor.

Vice-chancellor Das aggravated his spondylitis sleeping on a sofa. "I will have to manage with a mat if the gherao continues today," he said.

Presidency agitation

SFI supporters at Presidency University today gheraoed the office of the dean of students, A.K. Maity, for more than six hours to demand that the university reject the government's order to make student elections apolitical. The sit-in was withdrawn after registrar Debajyoti Konar said the university would convene a meeting in September to discuss the new poll rules.

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