Presidency agitators vacate VC's room; committee formed to talk to students
Students agitating against alleged police assault vacated Presidency University vice chancellor Anuradha Lohia`s room on Tuesday, even as she admitted there was trust deficit between the institution and the students but refused to quit and denied being affiliated to any political party.
Kolkata: Students agitating against alleged police assault vacated Presidency University vice chancellor Anuradha Lohia`s room on Tuesday, even as she admitted there was trust deficit between the institution and the students but refused to quit and denied being affiliated to any political party.
Lohia named a seven-member committee to hold dialogue with the agitating students, who have refused to interact with the vice chancellor and stood by their demand for her resignation.
They had confined her for over a day in her office claiming non-action following alleged police assault.
"Resignation will not happen. I am not close to anybody. I am close to my family, my faculty and students," Lohia told media persons, responding to allegations that she was close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the ruling Trinamool Congress.
On Tuesday morning, Lohia made her way into her chamber, but the agitating students made no effort to block her path, though some of them tied a piece of cloth on their mouths and held aloft placards protesting against her continuation in office.
Later, however, the students who had laid siege to the vice chancellor`s office left the room. A student leader, however, said the agitation will go on in some form.
The university has been on the boil since Friday, with agitating students claiming many of them were roughed up by police during Mamata Banerjee`s visit to the university`s College Street campus.
But their protest has been likened to "hooliganism" and criticised by almost all sections.
Asked whether there was trust deficit between the students and the university, Lohia replied: "Clearly. Otherwise why would they feel that I am not being able to satisfy them?
"I am happy they want to talk to their own teachers. This is how it should be. The VC can`t talk to everyone. I think the students have taken the right stand and I support it. I want them to talk to the HoDs (heads of departments).
The vice chancellor said she set up the committee since the students have declined to interact with her.
The committee comprises heads of six departments and the dean of students. They will be submitting a report in a week, she said.
"They will see what the students want and what can be done.
"The panel will also look into the grievances of students, their recommendations, and also how best we can implement the solutions that they have suggested.
"If the students want any further administrative clarification, we will form a committee which will be recommended by this committee," she said.
However, the agitating students asserted they would not interact with the committee.
"We are not accepting the committee and will not engage in any dialogue with the members," a student said, adding that they have a few demands which must be met.
Amid several academicians slamming the university authorities for inviting the chief minister to the campus, Lohia said that since President Pranab Mukherjee was unable to attend the third convocation ceremony, she extended the invitation to Banerjee as per protocol.
The students apologised for their unruly behaviour on Monday during their protests but refused to back down from their stand.
The students claim that the day before the chief minister arrived, a notification was issued, asking they must attend Banerjee`s lecture.
Denouncing the move, the students have also pressed for action against those behind the vandalising of the heritage Baker Laboratory of the university in 2013.
The students had also called for a boycott of the university`s third convocation on Saturday. However, the event took place without any interruption. Lohia was allowed to go home late on Saturday evening.
The state government has lent support to Lohia, saying there was no question of her stepping down, while opposition parties have slammed the Trinamool for interfering in education in the state.