As the student community across the country is out on the streets, protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register for Citizen and the police brutality on those opposing it, the students and teaching community of Jadavpur University have joined them by boycotting the West Bengal Governor.
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was on Tuesday, December 24, prevented by protesters from entering the university to attend its annual convocation, following which he left the varsity premises.
Protesters of the Left student bodies including Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) and Trinamool Congress Employees' Union showed black flags to Dhankhar, who is the chancellor of the varsity, and blocked his car at gate number 5 of the campus at around 10.30 AM on Tuesday.
The Jadavpur University community has been protesting against CAA and NRC, and Dhankhar’s public statement in support of the new law and the governor’s intervention in university’s annual convocation.
Though he left the premises at around noon, Dhankhar said the incident showed that rule of law has been "severely compromised" in the varsity.
"[email protected]. Am surprised that inspite of my directive to VC to go by rule book and abide by my direction as regards Convocation, the same has been started. In utter helplessness as of now I am leaving the Jadavpur University campus. Those concerned must soul search.
The governor, in a series of tweets, hit out at the vice-chancellor Suranjan Das, saying he remained "silent spectator" of the incident.
"I am amazed that the Vice Chancellor is in passive mode and silent spectator to this unseemly spectacle that augurs painful sliding of our system. This action is orchestrated by the powers that be not knowing the damage it causes in short and long run on out education,” read his tweet.
"Neither the VC nor anyone else from the University has contacted me though I have from my side contacted them," he said in another tweet.
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Meanwhile, Arts Faculty Students' Union president Debraj Debnath said that the students did not block the entry of the governor into the campus.
"We only showed placards and raised slogans against NRC and CAA," he said.
The governor was on Monday heckled and shown black flags twice at the university, a hotbed of anti-CAA protests, a day after he declared as "illegal and invalid" the varsity's decision to defer the December 24 special convocation because of possible trouble.
He had arrived at the varsity on Monday to attend a meeting of the University Court, its highest decision-making body. As he could not attend the Court meeting due to agitation by stakeholders, including students and non-teaching staff, the chancellor had called up the vice-chancellor Suranjan Das requesting him to hold the meeting at Raj Bhavan.
Earlier on Sunday, a day after Jadavpur University authorities announced cancellation of the special convocation, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar shot off a letter to the varsity vice-chancellor asking him to ignore the "illegal" resolution.
Left student bodies, AFSU and SFI, had earlier termed the governor's move an "unwarranted interference into the autonomy of the institute" and threatened strong protest if he "does anything by force".
Dhankhar, who is the chancellor of state universities, held the Executive Council resolution on December 21 to defer the convocation programme of December 24 "illegal and invalid" and said, "A question has arisen as to whether the Executive Council has acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it."
Referring to a letter from the vice-chancellor on December 21 informing about the decision to put the convocation on hold, he said, "In your communication you have referred to me as chancellor of Jadavpur University following resolution taken by the Executive Council in its meeting of December 21."
"I thus invoke the power reposed in me as Chancellor... in terms of provision of the act which states if any question arises as to whether the Executive Council has acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it by or under this act, the matter shall be decided by reference to the chancellor whose decision shall be final," he said.
"As vice chancellor you are obliged to proceed ahead ignoring this Executive Council resolution dated December 21, 2019," the letter from Raj Bhavan bearing Dhankhar's signature said.
He was referring to the decision to do away with the special convocation but go ahead with the annual convocation, which is addressed by the VC, on the same day
Observing that the Executive Council had outrageously overstepped its jurisdictional competence in being judgmental about the decision, the governor said, "Compliance of this be forthwith communicated."
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The SFI and AFSU in a joint statement said, "The students of JU will not tolerate the unwarranted interference of the governor in the functional autonomy of JU."
Threatening to hold a "strong demonstration" if the governor wants to do "anything forcefully," the unions had said, "Unlike any protest of the BJP, our movement will be democratic and peaceful."
An office-bearer of Jadavpur University Teachers' Association said they will request all stakeholders to ensure that the academic atmosphere of the premier institute is not hampered.
To a question, a JUTA member had said, "We hope the Court Meeting will ensure that degrees are conferred on the students and researchers during the annual convocation on December 24."