A day after Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) activists ran riot at Presidency University, the varsity’s faculty and students gathered at a rally in the city to protest against the violence that continues to dominate the state’s political landscape.
Wednesday’s attack by hooligans carrying TMCP flags was likely to cripple the university’s private fundraising activities and ambitious student-exchange programmes, various professors and students told Hindustan Times on Thursday, while staging a 2.5 km rally to protest against the incident.
The university authorities, professors, both past and present students and non-teaching staff took their complaints to the doors of Governor MK Narayanan, who remarked during the day that the attackers needed to be “treated as criminals”.
“The university had asked for Rs 200 crore from the state government that it could ill afford to provide. Now, the varsity authorities have decided to raise funds through private channels. But such attacks and vandalism will surely deter prospective donors,” Presidency’s head of physics, Somak Raychaudhury, who joined the varsity from the University of Birmingham, told HT while walking in the rally.
The authorities believe that the TMCP attack will also harm student-exchange and professor-recruitment procedures.
“Presidency has initiated student-exchange programmes with Trinity University (Texas) and Dublin University (Ireland). But after getting wind of Wednesday’s incident, the home universities will be wary of sending their students here,” registrar Prabir Dasgupta said.
“We’re also in the process of recruiting world-class faculty members from leading global institutes. But these professors might not want to come any more because the attack has left a cloud over the sense of security on the campus,” Dasgupta added. Former students joined the crowd of well-wishers, including advocate Arunava Ghosh and former Naxalites Ashim Chatterjee and Azizul Haque.
Those who couldn’t make it expressed solidarity with their counterparts. “The attack on Presidency is unprecedented and condemnable. The motive isn’t clear to me,” emeritus professor Rajat Kanta Roy said.
Vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar shot off a letter to Governor Narayanan (who is also Chancellor) detailing how the attack was perpetrated. In the evening, education minister Bratya Basu, also an ex-student of the university, met Sarkar and examined the extent of damage.
“Those who attacked should be treated as criminals,” Narayanan remarked in the morning.
After a day of rising discomfort, the ruling party finally broke its silence, with industry minister Partha Chatterjee saying, “The vice-chancellor should have complained to the Chancellor and police instead of appearing before the media. This goes against the ethics of PU.”
Chatterjee seemed to be unaware that soon after the attack the registrar filed an FIR at Jorasanko police station against ‘unidentified persons’ and the ‘policemen present on duty’ for negligence.
“We’ll conduct a detailed investigation into the incident. Media footage will also be examined,” deputy commissioner (central) DP Singh said.