Alleged religious event at Visva Bharati ruffles students, here's what registrar says

An SFI member of Visva-Bharati unit termed the development as attempt to "influence general students of an educational institution by outside saffron forces."
File photo for representational purposes only
File photo for representational purposes only(Pic: EdexLive Desk)

Left wing Students' Federation of India (SFI) has alleged "saffron forces" are holding 'certain religious activities' on Visva Bharati campus with over 12 rooms allotted to one such organisation in the university guest house.

Responding to the charges, Visva Bharati authorities, however, said, "no religious meet has been allowed within the university campus" but any room of the varsity-run guest house can been booked by any "bona-fide organisation as per applicable rates", stated a report by PTI.

The SFI leveled the 'saffronisation' charges a day ago citing reports that the Shankaracharya of Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati will be attending a three-day religious event at a Bolpur auditorium and stay at a guest house at Ratankuthi in Santiniketan.

The SFI further claimed in an email to the vice-chancellor of the central university that a couple of days ago a "mass postering" of the said religious event was spotted around the campus premises, which also includes the Ashram Prangana.

"The Visva-Bharati campus is a serene place built upon the values and ideals of Rabindranath Tagore, which are directly impeded by such activities in recent times. Visva-Bharati in order to maintain its autonomy from mainstream religion has always refrained from celebrating religious practices such as the Saraswati Puja or the Durga Puja," the left students' body said.

Denying any religious meet, "has been organised or permitted at Visva-Bharati", Registrar Ashok Mahato told PTI on Saturday, June 1, "I read in newspapers that Shankaracharya's programme is to be held at Gitanjali complex, which, as you know, is outside our campus and is not owned or managed by Visva-Bharati."

About the report that the Puri seer will be statying at the university-run guest house, he said, "While I don't have the guest details with me now, it can be said the guest house can be booked against applicable rent."

The spokesperson of Visva Bharati said, "The Visva-Bharati guest houses can be booked by any citizen of India or bona fide institution of this country through proper channel."

"The same has happened in this case. Further, the religious programme, if any, is not being held in Visva-Bharati but outside the campus," the spokesperson said.

Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) office-bearer Kausik Bhattacharya said, "To our knowledge, the organisation which had invited the Shankaracharya of Puri is a religious body having no link with the BJP. But the university property should never be used for any religious activity nor should there be a campaign for any such programme on the campus which is not in sync with the ideals propagated by Tagore and his father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, who professed the Brahmo ideology," he said.

An SFI member of Visva Bharati unit termed the development as attempt to "influence general students of an educational institution by outside saffron forces".

"It is also well known that the university has alloted about 12/14 rooms to the said group in the university's Ratan Kuthi guest house," he added.

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