Kolkata: The lock-in of Jadavpur University`s vice chancellor and other officials came to an end after a 51-hour ordeal as protesting students withdrew the siege to their offices and decided to start a relay hunger strike to demand the reconsideration of suspension of two students for ragging.
"We have decided to withdraw the siege. We will start a relay hunger strike in batches of twenty to realise our demand," said a spokesman of the agitating students. The fast began at 9 pm.
The varsity administration has refused to yield to the demands of the students.
The students from the engineering and humanities departments started the agitation Wednesday afternoon, laying siege to Aurobindo Bhavan, the administrative block.
Around 400 students were sloganeering from time to time and holding aloft posters demanding suspension of the two be revoked immediately. A section of students had been camping outside the office all night.
"We are adhering to our decision of suspension. We are going with the decision of the anti-ragging committee... our stand is the same as it was before the gherao," said Pro Vice Chancellor Sidhartha Datta, who was one of the officials to be locked in.
Registrar Pradip Ghosh, who was also a victim of the agitation, echoed a similar view.
"The students have been shouting slogans and boycotting classes. They are demanding that the two accused (for ragging) be let off. But the anti-ragging committee probing the matter has found them guilty...so we can`t do anything now," said Ghosh.
The two students were suspended on September 11 after a second year engineering student filed a complaint to the University Grants Commission (UGC) that he was beaten up last month.
The UGC forwarded the complaint to the university authorities, who constituted a probe panel which found the two students guilty of ragging.
A final year student of construction engineering was suspended for two semesters, and a fourth year student of the printing technology department was handed a one-semester suspension.
During the suspension period, the two students would not be allowed to stay in the hostel where the incident occurred, said Ghosh.
"We had issued a show cause notice...the suspension will come into effect very soon. We will negotiate and discuss with the angry students," said Ghosh.
The students, however, claim the ragging was "an internal disciplinary ritual".
West Bengal Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu expressed disapproval of the students` agitation and said "it is not the way to go about it. It is akin to blackmail".
"I hope the issue can be resolved through discussions between the students and officials," he said.
Echoing Basu, Datta hinted at possible negotiations with the students to resolve the current impasse.
"From previous experiences we have seen that such issues calm down after discussions...I think this time also we can arrive at a solution," he said.