Published: 07th November 2019
Tagore's university in Bengal to be guarded by CISF much to students' dismay
The MHRD gave the green light to permanently deploy CISF personnel to strengthen security of the campus, after the VC wrote to them asking for security cover over and above the local cops
Visva Bharati University in West Bengal, founded by Rabindranath Tagore, will now be under the security cover provided by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), after the VC wrote to the MHRD asking for additional security.
Shocked by the sudden step, students think that this move will hamper their freedom on campus irreversibly. What comes as a bigger shock is that at a time when universities across the country are reeling under major fund shortage, the cost to deploy paramilitary forces inside the campus will be borne from the grants of the university, sources said.
The VC of the university in Santiniketan, known for its liberal attitude, Bidyut Chakrabarty, requested the MHRD to strengthen security on campus in light of a confrontation between students and the university administration in May against an increase in the price of application forms. Students had gheraoed the faculty members and officials on campus. The VC alleged that the security guards who owe “their allegiance to TMC bosses” enabled the protestors by “remaining silent onlookers”.
But the students denied these claimed completely. "We were on a sit-in but nothing like what the VC said has happened ever. The security personnel did not let us into the administrative buildings during the initial days of our protests. We also had an altercation with the security on the day of the sit-in which resulted in a physical scuffle as well. How does this point to the security being friendly to us?" asked Mainul Hossain, a second-year post-graduate student of English at the university. "The people who worked here as security guards are all locals. They will lose their jobs or will have to work in worse places. What about their livelihood?" Mainul, also the Birbhum District Joint Secretary of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), opined.
SFI General Secretary Mayukh Biswas said that the SFI has been asking for the development of the higher educational infrastructure but no steps have been taken towards that. "But the government is more concerned about spending the money on the deployment of paramilitary forces inside an eminent university instead of looking into the basic infrastructural issues,' he said. "In addition to that, this action taken by the MHRD will minimise the democratic spaces inside the campus to practice the fundamental rights of the students," he added.
"Universities are for learning and questioning, let's not turn them into prisons, SFI CEC urges for an immediate resistance of this undemocratic order of HRD to the students' community at large irrespective of political colours," said VP Sanu, SFI President. This is not the first time that a central university has asked for paramilitary security. The Banaras Hindu University had asked for security support owing to their having a huge campus, in 2017 but their request was never cleared.
What changed in these two years that the MHRD gave the green signal, wondered the students. Given the fact that VBU is not known to be violent campus or to be in the midst of student protests as frequently as JNU where the VC was recently accused of calling the CRPF on campus in anticipation of a protest-gone-wrong.