Students of Visva Bharati University in Bengal were ordered to end their agitation outside the residence of the vice-chancellor by today, September 3. The Calcutta High Court passed interim orders after hearing a petition filed by the university authorities seeking the court’s intervention to clear the impasse.
The students have been demonstrating since August 28 against the decision by VBU to expel three students on disciplinary grounds. As per media reports, the three students — Somnath Sow and Falguni Pan of economics and Rupa Chakraborty of Hindustani classical music — were expelled for three years on August 23 for taking part in a campus protest in January 2020. Already under suspension for about nine months, they were charged with “gross indiscipline and misconduct”.
The court has said that all demonstrations, banners, barricades and obstruction outside the residence of the Vice Chancellor shall be removed by the Officer-in-charge, Santiniketan Police Station.
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha has also said that the Vice Chancellor of the University in addition to his own Security Guards shall also be provided with three constables from the Santiniketan Police Station for his protection, and the locks on the administrative building and any other part of the University by the students shall also be broken open by the Officer-in-charge, and the premises shall be handed over to concerned persons.
The court has also said that, “No demonstration shall be conducted by any students or any persons within a distance of 50 meters of any portion or part of the University, particularly, the schools, Classrooms, the residence of the Vice Chancellor, teachers, professors, officials, staff library, the administrative buildings laboratories etc”. The Single-judge Bench has also directed that loudspeakers will not be permitted inside the University premises.
The court also said, “None of the employees of the University including the V.C., Professors, Teachers, Officials and other staff shall be prevented from entering the University premises or the respective Schools and Departments under it. And all obstructions to any CCTV camera in the University at any place shall be forthwith removed and a report to this effect shall be submitted independently by the Registrar of the University and also the Officer-in-charge, Santiniketan Police Station.”
The court has also asked the Visva Bharati registrar to file a report on September 8, when the students will also be heard. It also noted in its order, “This Court notes with anguish that the functioning of a University which grooms the citizens of the future, has been disrupted.”
The University, in its application submitted that the Vice Chancellor had been wrongfully confined since August 27, 2021 in his residence and his egress and ingress has been prevented. It also submitted that the VC had been unwell, and certain medical personnel of the University were not allowed to visit or examine him, and food was not allowed into his house.
The plea also stated that the administrative building and other portions of the University had been kept under the lock and key. “The University has come to a standstill at the instance of a section of the students and certain outsiders. It is also submitted that the students are being used as a front by certain influential persons for collateral purposes,” it said.
But the counsel for the State opposed and denied these allegations and submitted that the VC was never prevented from moving in and out of his residence. He also submitted that the State had sent Medical Officers to examine the VC headed by the Sub-Divisional Officer but were refused access by his own family members.
The matter will be taken up on September 8.
The order may be read here: