Visva-Bharati expels from hostel student who shot VC’s Republic Day speech
Visva-Bharati University authorities on Tuesday expelled a student from its hostel for shooting and circulating a video of a speech by vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty in which he was seen referring to the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) while addressing students after hoisting the tricolour on Republic Day.
Bijju Sarkar, a second-year undergraduate student of history and resident of Purbapalli Senior Boys’ Hostel, was served the eviction notice on Monday, giving him 24 hours to vacate the hostel.
Though Visva Bharati Students’ Unity Forum had announced Monday night that the eviction would be resisted, Sarkar left the campus early Tuesday morning.
In the eviction notice, proctor Sankar Majumdar wrote, that the video was “disruptive and defamatory” and “used to defame the vice-chancellor on social media”. The notice mentions that Sarkar confessed to shooting the video on his phone.
VB public relations officer Anirban Sarkar said that the student had deliberately circulated an edited version of the speech to malign the V-C by distorting his statement.
The video clip that VB students shared on social media triggered a controversy, as in it Chakrabarty was heard saying, “Those opposing CAA are reading out the Preamble. But this Constitution was given its shape 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 like the Veda. The Preamble has turned into Veda. But if we dislike, we, the voters who form the Parliament, we will change it. However, creating a hullabaloo and exchanging abuses is not the way to go about the change.”
Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) condemned the authority’s decision. In a statement issued on Tuesday, VBUFA president Sudipta Bhattacharya said, “In the said video nothing was added over and above VC’s speech. If there is some “disruptive and defamatory” content in it, VC himself is responsible...VBUFA strongly demands that the order may be immediately withdrawn and the student is reinstated in the hostel.”
Students threatened to continue their protests after Saraswati Puja (January 29). “The authorities are taking one step after another to take away the democratic space of the students but our movement seeking the VC’s resignation will continue. He is directly involved in implementing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s designs on the campus,” said Somnath Sow, a leader of VB Students’ Unity Forum (VBSUF), a platform of various Leftwing student organisations spearheading the agitation.
This is the second video clip surfacing within a week that has drawn the VC into controversy. A video clip that came into circulation on January 24 purportedly showed the VC instructing some students to gather “bike bahini” (motorcycle army) and “give a dose” to those planning to disrupt Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta’s scheduled lecture on CAA on the campus on January 8. Students have lodged a complaint at Bolpur police station submitting a copy of the video clip.
While VB public relations officer Sarkar has said that the voice in the January 7 video did not match that of Chakrabarti, VBUFA took a resolution on Monday night, urging the PRO to refrain from making such remarks at a time the police were investigating into the allegations.
Indicating that the trouble is going to continue, VBSUF and VBUFA have also opposed the three-member probe panel, headed by former Calcutta high court chief justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya, which VB authorities formed to investigate into the January 8 agitation during Dasgupta’s speech and the January 15 attack on Leftist students inside the campus.
Students and teachers demanded the removal of the two other members of the probe panel - VB executive council members Dulal Chandra Ghosh and Manjumohan Mukhopadhyay – arguing that Ghosh has publicly said that he believed the January 15 attack was a Left-Trinamool Congress (TMC) joint ploy to defame Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and that Mukhopadhay has publicly expressed his support for CAA.