KOLKATA: Jadavpur University students have gheraoed vice-chancellor Suranjan Das at his office since Monday night demanding revocation of a bill that dissolves students’ unions by wresting authority on university executive councils to conduct student elections.
Students of Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) and Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union (FETSU) prevented Das from leaving his office on Monday night allegedly warning that he had to ‘trample upon the students’ to leave his office.
The West Bengal Assembly passed Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Bill 2017 in February last year. Agitating students claim the bill will curb powers of student unions by de-politicising and replacing them with student councils.
“The undemocratic and unconstitutional bill will make democratically-elected student bodies toothless and wrest all powers with the government through the executive councils. We demand that status quo be maintained with regard to students unions,” said student representative Debopam Banerjee. The students said that the sit-in would continue until their demands are met.
On the other hand, the university administration said they have no say in the bill and any amendments have to be made by the state government. “The bill was passed by the West Bengal Assembly and not the JU administration. Though we believe that some amendments must be made to the bill with respect to the heritage of JU, we don’t have powers to do that. We believe all the differences can be sorted out by dialogue with the agitators,” said vice-chancellor Suranjan Das.
However, education minister Partha Chatterjee said that there would be no revocation of the bill and the agitators would be dealt with sternly. The university had erupted in August last year over the same issue but the gherao of the vice-chancellor and the registrar was forcibly broken by the police.