BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta, invited to speak on Citizenship Act, locked inside room at Bengal’s Visva Bharati
The Visva-Bharati campus at Santiniketan in West Bengal erupted in protests on Wednesday over a lecture, organised by the university authorities, in which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta was invited to speak on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Dasgupta, vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, some faculty members, staff and local BJP leaders accompanying Dasgupta had to stay inside a room for four hours after the seminar ended with students staging an agitation outside. The doors of the hall were locked from inside.
At 8.35 pm, he tweeted: “There are nearly 70 people locked inside a room in Vishwa Bharati (V-B), Santiniketan, for the crime of attending an official, university-convened lecture by me on CAA. This includes the VC. There is a howling mob outside itching for confrontation.” Later, speaking over the phone, he said: “Under the present circumstances, it will require the police to help us come out. This is for the V-C to decide. I condemn this Left fascism.”
The students withdrew the agitation at 9 pm.
Shiba Prasad Patra, additional superintendent of police, Bolpur, said, “We cannot enter the campus unless the authorities ask for it. We received no communication from the authorities.”
V-B is a central university, with the Prime Minister as its chancellor.
Students belonging to V-B Students’ Unity Forum called for a boycott of the event, alleging that the university authorities acted in a partial manner by allowing only the BJP’s view on CAA to be aired. A section of faculty members, too, supported the students’ call.
On Wednesday, students blockaded Lipika Sabhagriha, the auditorium where the event was scheduled, shouting “Swapan Dasgupta Go Back”.
Around 4pm, the varsity authorities shifted the event to another auditorium, which, too, the students shortly laid siege to. District-level BJP leaders Dudh Kumar Mandal and district unit vice president Dilip Ghosh were also inside the auditorium.
At 4.41 pm, Dasgupta took to Twitter and wrote, “How does it feel to have a mob attack a peaceful meeting on CAA and intimidation students? This is what is happening to a meeting I am addressing at Vishwa Bharati now. Locked into room now with mob outside.”
Student leaders alleged that the programme was political. “If a discussion was going to be organised on CAA, why call a BJP leader alone? The VC has brought insult upon the institution founded by Rabindranath Tagore,” said Somnath Shaw, a leader of Students’ Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of Communist Party of India (Marxist).
V-B public relations officer Anirban Sircar did not answer to queries sent via text messages and WhatsApp.
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