‘People who treat Preamble as Veda’: Visva-Bharati VC wades into fresh row

Hindustan Times, Kolkata | By
Jan 28, 2020 12:03 AM IST

In a new video clip, purpotedly showing Visva-Bharati (VB) University vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty questioning protesters against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has triggered another round of protests by students.

The conflict between Visva-Bharati (VB) vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and a section of students and teachers escalated on Monday after a new video clip, showing Chakraborty questioning protesters against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), surfaced.

Students of Visva-Bharati University burn an effigy during a protest against.(Representative image/PTI)
Students of Visva-Bharati University burn an effigy during a protest against.(Representative image/PTI)

In the video, he can be hard saying that some people are “treating the Preamble to the Constitution as Veda.”

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Students announced a prolonged agitation seeking Chakraborty’s resignation, accusing him of “trying to saffronise the campus.”

The agitators also objected to the campus being extensively covered by new security cameras installed over Saturday and Sunday. They also objected to the authorities issuing a notice on Monday, prohibiting any gathering or agitation near the central administrative office and the library.

On Monday evening, students took out a rally inside the campus, shouting slogans that included “Sanghi VC go-back” and “VC must resign.”

Late in the evening, the teachers’ association convened a general body meeting to decide the future course of action.

“Those opposing CAA are reading out the Preamble. But this Constitution was passed with minority votes. 293 persons created it sitting in the Constituent Assembly. If you go through the papers of that time, we will find that many had disliked it. But today it is being treated as the Veda. The Preamble has turned into Veda. But if we dislike it, we, the voters who form the Parliament, will change it,” Chakraborty is purportedly seen telling a group of students in a speech after hoisting the tricolour at the Purbapalli senior boys’ hostel on Republic Day.

Students who shared the video on social media claimed it was shot on mobile phone.

HT sent the video to the VB public relations officer, Anirban Sarkar, and asked for comments. HT asked whether the person shown in the video is Chakraborty. Sarkar did not respond.

“In an earlier video, the VC was seen instructing some students to attack the protesting students. This new video confirms that the VC is working on his agenda to saffronise Tagore’s sacred land,” said Somnath Sow, a leader of the VB Students’ Unity Forum, a platform of various Leftwing students’ organizations that is spearheading the agitation against the CAA.

“Our movement will continue till we free the campus of him. Agitation will resume after Saraswati puja (January 29),” Sow added.

The new video clip surfaced three days after students lodged a complaint at Bolpur police station, submitting a video clip that they claimed to have been shot on January 7. The video purportedly showed the VC instructing some students to gather “bike bahini” (motorcycle army) and give those planning to disrupt BJP Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta’s scheduled lecture on CAA on the campus on January 8 “a dose”.

A section of students and teachers had called for the boycott of the event, arguing that the VC had invited a BJP leader alone to allow only BJP’s views on the issue to be aired on the campus. The students had also gheraoed Dasgupta, the VC and some teachers at the auditorium.

VB’s PRO said on Sunday that the voice in the January 7 video did not match with that of the VC. A senior police officer of Birbhum district, who did not want to be named, said that a preliminary investigation was being conducted on the basis of the complaint lodged by the students but no FIR had been filed till Monday evening.

After Monday’s general body meeting, president of Visva Bharati University Faculty Association, Sudipta Bhattacharya said, “The VC has illegally locked up our office room. We condemn it and we will fight against it. How can the PRO say that the January 7 video is doctored when the police is probing it?”

On January 15, three students belonging to the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) were beaten up inside the campus. While SFI blamed RSS’ student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), for the attack, ABVP refuted the charge and demanded a probe. The police have arrested three persons in connection with the attack and ABVP has said none of them belonged to their organisation.

VB authorities have announced a three-member probe panel, to be headed by former Calcutta high court chief justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya, to investigate the January 8 agitation and the January 15 attack.

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    Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, principal correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata, has been covering politics, socio-economic and cultural affairs for over 10 years. He takes special interest in monitoring developments related to Maoist insurgency and religious extremism.

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