Kolkata: A whopping 80 percent of students, belonging to the arts faculty of Jadavpur University, voted for the removal of Vice Chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti in the referendum that spanned Thursday and Friday.
In the first phase of the referendum, as many as 2,602 students cast their votes. The results were declared Friday evening. The second leg which includes the science and engineering departments would begin Nov 11.
"The results clearly show that majority want his removal. We condemn those who said that only few students want the VC to resign. 80 percent want his resignation," said Gitashree Sarkar, general secretary of the university students' union.
"Today (Friday) we have proved our convictions to be true," she said.
The students have been clamouring for the removal of Chakrabarti since Sep 17 when the university authorities allegedly ordered a police crackdown to break up a sit-in of students who were demanding an independent investigation into the purported molestation of a female student inside a hostel.
The students voted on four issues - whether the vice chancellor should resign or not, whether the students want a judicial probe into the alleged molestation, whether there should be a judicial probe into the alleged police crackdown, and whether they were okay with the setting up of police pickets and mandatory display of identity cards.
Thousands of agitating students and several faculty members led a massive rally Sep 19 in Kolkata, demanding Chakrabarti's removal and decrying police atrocities.
The incident had a ripple effect across the country with students and alumni holding smaller protest marches in cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Through social networking websites, the agitation brought together the Kolkata diaspora and university alumni in solidarity.
Amid the raging clamour for his removal, Chakrabarti, who was the interim vice chancellor, was last month given full-time responsibility by West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi, who is ex-officio chancellor of the Jadavpur University.
The state government instituted a five-member probe panel headed by Calcutta University Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das.
Two university students and a former student have been arrested in connection with the alleged molestation.