Jadavpur University students withdraw siege of VC

Kolkata, Jan 10 (IANS) Jadavpur University students lifted their siege of Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das and other top officials on Sunday night following the intervention of West Bengal Governor Kesri Nath Tripathi who agreed to meet the agitators on Monday.

Demanding holding of student union elections, a section of the students held Das and other officials virtually captive since Friday afternoon following an advisory by the Bengal higher education department that the state-run university hold the union elections after the assembly polls slated to be completed by May end.

However, the students demanded that the university – being an autonomous body – should not bow to the government diktat and issue the circular for the elections by January 31, when the tenure of all the three student councils expire.

They also demanded a tri-partite meeting involving Tripathi – the ex-officio chancellor, the vice chancellor, executive council members and student representatives.

“The governor has decided to meet the students on Monday,” Das told media persons late in the evening.

Following his statement, the agitators convened a general body meeting and decided to withdraw the siege “for the time being”.

“We are withdrawing our demonstration for the time being as the meeting will be held on Monday. But our movement will continue. We will decide on our next course of action after the meeting,” said one of the student leaders.

Earlier in the day, the vice chancellor had fallen sick after being under siege for 48 hours.

“I am a diabetic. For the past 48 hours, I have been sitting in my chamber. My blood pressure is fluctuating,” Das told IANS over phone Sunday afternoon. A doctor was called in to examine him earlier in the day.

The vice chancellor, pro vice chancellor and registrar along with executive council members spent two nights inside the administrative building Aurobindo Bhawan as protesting students demanded that Das notify the elections.

The university executive council on Saturday held an emergency meeting and assured the students that they would inform Tripathi of a looming crisis if the union polls are not held by January 31 when the terms of all three student councils end.

The university is known for its academic brilliance as also its tumultuous student agitations over the decades. In 2014, students carried out a sustained and successful movement demanding the removal of then vice chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti for ordering a police crackdown on students.

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