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Convocation forced out of Presi campus

VC Anuradha Lohia and other teachers outside Presidency gate on Monday. 
(Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

College Street: Presidency University has shifted the venue of its scheduled convocation on Tuesday to the Nandan-III auditorium amid a students' agitation and the governor's refusal to attend the event because the authorities allegedly sidestepped Raj Bhavan as an alternative venue.

The drama started with the protesters locking the gate to the College Street institution on Monday morning, preventing vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia and several of her colleagues from entering the campus. The students were protesting the delay in reopening the heritage Hindu Hostel that was closed for renovation on July 29, 2015.

Lohia left College Street after waiting outside the gate for 20 minutes along with 30-odd colleagues. "I am not going to enter the campus with the help of the police. I am not going to force my way into the campus. They have to open the gate to let us enter. If they don't open the gate, we will not enter," she said.

Around 6pm, word arrived that the convocation would be held at Raj Bhavan, as requested by the Presidency authorities. This was confirmed by an official at Raj Bhavan when Metro contacted him to ask if the venue had been finalised.

At 7.12pm, the vice-chancellor sent Metro a text saying that the convocation would not be held at Raj Bhavan. This was in response to being asked if the proposal for a change in venue had come from her.

Presidency registrar Debajyoti Konar announced at 8.30pm that the convocation would be held at Nandan-III. Scientist C.N.R. Rao is to be awarded an honorary DSc and actor Soumitra Chatterjee an honorary DLitt at the convocation. Degrees won't be ceremonially awarded to students in view of the changed circumstances, registrar Konar said.

Konar confirmed that governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who would normally award the honours and degree certificates in his capacity as chancellor, wouldn't attend the event. "The governor has delegated powers to the vice-chancellor to conduct the convocation," he said.

According to a Raj Bhavan official, the governor was "upset" about the change. "The governor had consented to this (to hold the event at Raj Bhavan) as the vice-chancellor herself had made the proposal. We are assuming the Presidency authorities did not send the formal letter because the higher education department did not want the event to be held here," he said.

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