Published: 08th December 2022
Visva-Bharati University: Protesting students were beaten in front of the V-C's residence
After rifts with employees, the VBU Vice-Chancellor embroils himself in another feud with the students
Visva-Bharati University (VBU) finds itself in another chaos as protesting students got beaten up in front of the Vice-Chancellor's office. The VBU students have been staging a dharna in front of VC's residence since November 23, demanding his resignation, and today, December 8, marks their 15th day of protest. "The V-C's security guards thrashed us. His car returned to his residence then what was the need to mistreat us this way?" asks Minakshi Bhattacharya, a PhD candidate at and a student leader of the All India Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (AITMCP) at VBU.
On November 23, 50-60 students gheraoed the V-C outside his office for 12 hours. According to the VBU employees, the gherao resulted from long-standing conflict over the indiscriminate punishments meted out to students and employees of the institute with arbitrary accusations ever since V-C Bidyut Chakrabarty assumed his office in 2018. As per reports, the V-C was escorted by his private security personnel, and outsiders also broke into the campus and were violent with the protesting students. VBU employees and students allege the aggressive outsiders were summoned by the V-C. The following day, students took to staging an indefinite sit-in protest in front of the V-C's residence. "We wanted to meet the V-C and discuss the issues that have been plaguing the university. We wanted answers for all the arbitrary actions taken against us, but V-C never stepped out. Then finally, when he was leaving in his car the other day, he blocked it and demanded that he speak, which is why we were beaten up," adds Minakshi, who has had her PhD extension rejected. She claims the rejection is out of the V-C's vendetta against her for being the face of the student movement against him. The medical report of Minakshi, which was shared with EdexLive, makes a note of trauma over her neck, right thigh, nape area and the right side of the hypochondrium area.
Minakshi has written an official complaint against Prof Bidyut Chakrabarty and his private security for physical assault at the Shantiniketan Police Station. In the complaint letter she states, "...today,i.e, 06/12/2022, at around 4 pm, under the direct instruction of the Vice-Chancellor, some unidentified private security guards tried to forcefully drag me out and launched a physical attack on me and injured me...Prof. Bdyut Chakrabarty is continuously misusing his chair as an influential person. I am under ultimate life threat and beg you're necessary action."
Another student named Somenath Sow, a student leader from the Student Federation of India (SFI), had his Master's admission cancelled despite the Calcutta High Court's order to restore it. Somenath had previously written against the V-C on social media, which became the basis to cancel his admission. He was also rusticated on flimsy grounds and returned to campus on High Court's order. President of the Visva-Bharati Faculty Association (VBUFA), Sudipta Bhattacharyya, says, "Despite the Court's order to restore his admission, nothing has been done so far. This is a clear case of contempt of court."
In a statement released by VBUFA, the association calls the actions of the V-C an attempt to "demolish the institution maniacally" and writes, "Shri Somnath Sow has been denied admission despite an order by the Hon'ble High Court at Calcutta. Shri Sow was rusticated for 3 years by the HPEVB which was set aside by the High Court. He has already lost one year due to the vindictive action."
Rising suspension orders
Since V-C Bidyut Chakrabarty took over his position in November 2018, there has been an upshot of suspension orders and show causes in VBU. At the moment, VBU is involved in 100 court cases with numerous staff members and students. "V-C loses most cases, yet he continues with these arbitrary actions. He has taken a few cases up to the Supreme Court. One such case is with an employee who barely makes Rs 5,000 a month," informs Minakshi.