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Hats off to Jagdeep Dhankhar: Ex-VC

Former VC Abhijit Chakrabarti said the university was 'losing its repute'

By Avijit Sinha and Subhankar Chowdhury in Siliguri/Calcutta
  • Published 21.09.19, 4:21 AM
  • Updated 21.09.19, 4:21 AM
  • 2 mins read
Abhijit Chakrabarti (The Telegraph file picture)

The former vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University, Abhijit Chakrabarti, who had called cops to the campus to lift a blockade in September 2014, said his successor Suranjan Das should have approached police on Thursday when Union minister Babul Supriyo was being “harassed” by the students.

He took a dig at the state government and the university authorities over Thursday’s incident and added that the university was “losing its repute” because of such incidents. He was in Siliguri on Friday to attend a seminar.

When the students had laid siege outside Aurobindo Bhavan, the administrative headquarters, in the night of September 16, 2014, Chakrabarti had called the police. The gherao was organised to press for an independent investigation into an alleged molestation on the campus.

“I had to call the police to the campus because of an exigency. My successor Suranjan Das should have called the police to the campus on Thursday because of another exigency. How could he remain inactive for so many hours even as a Union minister was being confined for hours? Just because he belonged to the BJP, the university administration chose to remain silent. Would they have done the same had a Trinamul Congress minister been detained in this fashion?” he said.

Chakrabarti said it was “very strange” that the state did not act even though a central minister was harassed and physically assaulted on the campus.

According to him, such was the situation that the governor had to take the initiative and reach the university. “Hats off to the chancellor,” he said.

“When education minister Partha Chatterjee and the authorities failed, he stepped in. What had happened was utterly disappointing and unprecedented,” said Chakrabarti, who is now a professor at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur.

“Due to such incidents, the university was also losing its repute and whether it is the authorities or the students, none seems to be bothered. Why the university authorities should be averse to calling police on the campus when an Union minister is stuck for hours and the chancellor is advising VC for sending police to the campus to resolve the impasse,” said Chakrabarti.

In January 2015, Chakrabarti had to step down from the vice-chancellor’s post after students resorted to demonstration for months, protesting his decision to call police to the campus to lift a gherao in September 2014.

After his resignation, Chakrabarti had said that he has not succumbed to any pressure but had resigned because of “anarchism” at the university.

Chakrabarti said those who are now questioning the visit of chancellor to the JU campus, did not utter a word when chief minister Mamata Banerjee had gone to the campus on January 11, 2015, to announce before the students that he would resign.

When chief minister had visited the campus, Chakrabarti was not even present.

“Chancellor can always visit the campus. But what business the chief minister has to visit to a campus? Those who are now criticising the legitimacy of the chancellor’s visit, were quiet on the chief minister’s visit as it suited their purpose of forcing me to step down. Nothing could be more double standard than this,” said Chakrabarti.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had gone to the campus after students had begun indefinite hunger strike, demanding Chakrabarti’s resignation.

The former VC also mentioned that certain precautions and arrangements are necessary at the varsity to prevent violence at the campus.

“There should be policemen at the entrances and entry without identity cards and passes issued from the entrances should be stopped. Also, there should be a specific place where protests and rallies can be carried out to avoid such tumultuous situations. It is high time that the varsity authorities implement the recommendations made by the Calcutta High Court,” he said.