KOLKATA: West Bengal Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Friday did a volte-face on the issue of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad’s(TMCP) alleged violence against teachers of Calcutta University and warned them of severe repercussions.
After receiving a report from University Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das, Partha reprimanded the party workers and told them “such anarchcy” would not be tolerated. Das and pro-V-C Dhrubojyoti Chatterjee had been heckled when they tried to intervene during the attack.
The V-C on Friday said, “I had chosen the wrong word when I said I tried to intervene between two ‘confronting’ groups -- meaning the teachers and some students. I apologise if I hurt the sentiments of my colleagues. I tried to save my teachers and had fallen down (during the attack). I condemn the incident.”
“I could not meet the Chancellor, who is also the Governor, as he was not in town. I met the Education Minister. He too is worried. I have submitted a confidential report naming the students involved and details of what exactly happened. I have suggested some legal steps that need to be taken. I will also submit a copy to the Chancellor,” he said.
Das, who has been designated as V-C of Jadavpore University, remarked that he was not sure of taking up the new post yet. The agitating teachers, who met the Education Minister, said that they would announce their future course of action after consulting Das on Monday.
The minister had earlier sided with the TMC student wing workers who, accompanied by a few local leaders, entered the University Senate Hall on Wednesday and allegedly assaulted the teachers.
TMC Lok Sabha MP and professor Sugata Bose commented, “I have expressed my concern to the minister. Students should always respect teachers and what happened was unfortunate, condemnable and should never happen.”
Commenting on the turn of events, CPM-led Left Front chairman Biman Bose said, “If the Education Minister cannot ensure a clean educational atmosphere, then he has failed and should tender his resignation.”
Former Supreme Court Judge Asoke Ganguly, who expressed solidarity with the teachers, said, “An undeclared emergency seems to be in force in the state and students are being used to foil agitations of teachers, who are entitled to the democratic right of expressing their demands.”
University and college teachers have repeatedly been attacked by alleged TMCP members ever since the TMC came to power in 2011. Party leaders have also been accused of interfering in campus affairs during admissions and seeking lump sums from college aspirants.