Facing Governor’s ire, Jadavpur University pro-VC pleads not guilty
Facing Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s ire for being prevented from presiding over the Jadavpur University’s convocation, varsity Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das on Tuesday pleaded not guilty for the fiasco, saying he had tried his best to persuade protesters to lift the blockade.
Prof Das also asserted that he went by the rule book in holding the convocation ceremony without varsity Chancellor Dhankhar.
After the varsity’s convocation, Das told reporters that he has great respect for the post of chancellor and he along with the Pro-VC and registrar had requested the varsity employees to lift the blockade and let the chancellor enter the varsity and preside over the ceremony.
“But they did not listen,” he said, with a tinge of helplessness.
Forced to return from the University gate by anti-CAA, anti-NRC protestors, Dhankhar had called up the vice chancellor and later accused him of being a “silent spectator” to the unsavoury episode.
“We cannot allow such a system to be there... There can’t be complete lawlessness. There’s is total collapse of rule of law,” a livid Dhankhar told journalists from inside his car before leaving the campus in a huff.
In a series of tweets, the governor later hit out at Vice-Chancellor Das, saying he remained ‘silent spectator’ to the incident.
‘I am amazed that the Vice Chancellor is in passive mode and silent spectator to this unseemly spectacle that augurs painful sliding of our system,” Dhankhar tweeted.
Recalling the chain of events from the arrival of governor’s convoy at the gate number five of the university till its return, Das said as the chancellor had to leave the campus, an emergency meeting of the university’s court was held at 11.30 am to decide what to do next.
It was decided by the court that the vice chancellor would preside over the annual convocation function as the university statute allows it, Das said.
“We all want to protect the academic interest of our students and the decisions to cancel the special convocation and subsequently go ahead with it were valid as they all were taken in accordance with university statute,” Das said.
Hinting that he was hurt by Dhankhar’s tweets, which described his as “passive spectator”, Das said “Even if he had named me in tweets, I had never said anything about the chancellor, whose post is supreme to me.” “Even if there had been any difference, I never aired my comments through media or twitter,” he said.
The VC described Tuesday’s convocation as having taken place in ‘unprecedented circumstances “but we still managed to conduct it and award degrees to students.” Das also cited a resolution passed by varsity’s court meeting before the annual convocation. It read “it was unfortunate that hon’ble chancellor could not enter the campus. In view of the situation that hon’ble chancellor could not enter, the members of court met at 11.30 am in open air annexe and decided in terms of the varsity statute that the VC was authorised to preside over the convocation in the interest of students.” The Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students’ Union (JU) general secretary Abhik told PTI, “We did not prevent the governor from entering the campus. To my knowledge, no other student union either blocked his way.
“But we would have shown him black flags, shouted slogans and held placards letting him know that we don’t want his presence at the convocation. Had he attended the convocation, we would have boycotted the function,” he added.
The Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association while terming the episode as unfortunate, said the VC has the right to preside over the annual convocation under 104(b) of the university statute.
The All Bengal University Teachers Association thanked the VC for conducting the Convocation and deplored the ‘dictatorial attitude’ of the chancellor who “had ordered the VC to put on hold the annual convocation which is a direct threat to the autonomy of a higher educational institution like JU.”