KOLKATA: Taking strong exception to road blockades staged by college students over attendance mandate, West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has asserted the government will be forced to take action if the agitators cause inconvenience to public for "personal benefit".
A large number of students from two institutes - Shibnath Shastri College and Heramba Chandra College - took to streets on Thursday and Friday to protest against the Calcutta University (CU) mandate of 60 per cent minimum attendance for appearing in examinations.
The agitators of Heramba Chandra College blocked thoroughfares in Golpark area for two consecutive days, demanding immediate relaxation of norms.
The protest was also backed by students of Gurudas College and Jaipuria College, who demonstrated outside their campuses.
The education minister said the government will not succumb to the pressure tactics of the students.
"Under no circumstances will the administration tolerate such pressure tactics. Many people were inconvenienced as they (students) blocked the roads to get their demands fulfilled. This is unacceptable," Chatterjee told reporters on Saturday.
Earlier this year, the CU authorities had asked all affiliated colleges to ensure that only those with a minimum 60 per cent attendance would be allowed to sit for semester exams.
A list of non-eligible students was recently published at Heramba Chandra College, triggering the agitation.
Chatterjee pointed out that the state education department has fixed 60 per cent attendance as a criterion to sit for semester exams, even as the UGC suggested 75 per cent attendance for higher educational institutions.
"Maybe the agitating students wanted to sit for exams without attending classes or studying," he said.
Heramba Chandra College Principal Nabanita Chakraborty, who met Chatterjee Saturday morning, said the authorities are planning to reduce the cut-off figure for attendance from 60 per cent to 55 per cent.
Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the students' wing of the ruling party, also appealed to the education minister to find a "way out of the deadlock" to restore normalcy in the institutes.
TMCP president Trinankur Bhattacharya, who met the minister at his residence, told reporters that the unit has sought a solution that would be acceptable to all sides.
A TMCP source said the union urged Chatterjee to consider relaxation in attendance norm for this year.