The process of turning the Tagore heritage complex in Visva-Bharati University into a World Heritage site may have been hit by students’ vandalism.
Two groups of students clashed in the university campus in Birbhum district, 200 km from Kolkata, on Saturday night and vandalised part of an artwork by painter Nandalal Bose and sculptor Ramkinkar Baij.
The relief work was done in the 1930s on the walls of Kalo Bari (Black House) that is currently used as a boys’ hostel.
The building is made of mud with a thick coat of coal tar, to which it owes its name.
The Centre applied for the world heritage status in February 2010, following the Unesco’s decision to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in 2011 all over the world to spread his message of peace and harmony.
But now, the Unesco may reject the application on the ground that the authorities have failed to properly protect the site. In March 2004, burglars took away Tagore’s Nobel medallion and other memorabilia. The case is still unsolved.
“Unfortunately, the apprehension can’t be ruled out. If students and those associated with the violence don’t realise the fallout of a skirmish on a heritage campus, shame can descend on the entire nation,” said Uday Narayan Singh, director, Rabindra Bhavana.
Although Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Rajat Kanta Roy ordered a probe into the violence, the state government has not yet taken any step, since the university authorities did not file any first information report with the police.
Refusing to comment on the fate of the Unesco application, Gautam Sengupta, director, Archaeological Survey of India, said, “The incident is extremely unfortunate.”