Burdwan varsity row: Student leaders stopped from meeting Bengal governor

Kolkata, Feb 27 (IANS) At least 100 student activists led by SFI were on Saturday prevented by police from meeting West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi to urge him to intervene and restore normalcy at Burdwan University which has been on the boil after police baton-charged a group of student agitators.

During a protest march on Saturday in Kolkata, activists affiliated to four Left-wing organisations – the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), All India Students’ Block (AISB) and Progressive Students Union (PSU) – were stopped by police at Metro Channel, around 2 kms from Raj Bhavan.

A scuffle ensued between the police and student leaders resulting in the arrest of 65 agitators, claimed SFI leader Vikas Jha.

“Even though we brought the issue of irregularities in results and examinations to the attention of the state government, they failed to take any steps to normalise the situation. We want the entire matter to come to the governor’s attention so that he can restore normalcy in the campus,” he said.

The protest was against the alleged “attack by Trinamool Congress workers on students who were on hunger strike” in the varsity on Friday.

“Trinamool Congress goons brought from outside the campus backed by some of the staff of the university aligned with the Trinamool, attacked and beat up the students (who were on hunger strike) and injured several of them on Friday night,” said Jha.

Trinamool leader Sitaram Mukherjee however denied the allegations, asserting “none of the party’s workers laid a hand on any of the students”.

“We had gone to the campus to rescue the faculty as they were locked up inside the premises during the students’ agitation,” he said.

The ongoing agitation at the varsity was triggered by the baton-charge on students by police on February 23.

The student agitators had allegedly vandalised the campus, about 100 km from Kolkata, over anomalies in undergraduate results and postponement of exams on February 22.

Vice Chancellor Smritikumar Sarkar said the university administration was forced to seek police security after some agitators, pretending to be students, vandalised the campus.

On February 23 TV grabs showed the agitators, affiliated to SFI, waving flags and trying to climb over the gate. Police were seen chasing them and resorting to baton-charge.

Leader of the opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra criticised the state government over the issue saying “the ruling party’s goons are threatening the common man”.

“It shows that the state government is terrified. They do not have any way but to attack,” he told the media.

State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has urged the vice chancellor to look into the reported anomalies.

“This matter is being exploited for political gain,” he said.

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