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Students suspend agitation after Jadavpur University executive council writes to govt

Jadavpur University students postponed their agitation on Saturday after the university’s executive council informed the government that not only students but even teachers and research scholars were not ready accept nominated councils in place of elected students’ unions.

kolkata Updated: Aug 12, 2017 14:17 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Jadavpur University,West Bengal,Mamata Banerjee
Jadavpur University students outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office on Friday night, protesting against West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Bill-2017 which has done away with students’ union elections. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Students of Jadavpur University ‘postponed’ their agitation around 1 am on Saturday after the executive council wrote to the government that the state’s decision to introduce ‘apolitical’ student body was unacceptable to various stakeholders of the university.

The statement signed by registrar Pradip Ghosh said the university had always witnessed peaceful student union elections. It also said the students’ opposition had the support of not only all the student unions but also of the body representing research scholars as well as two teachers’ associations.

Read: Bengal students’ union elections to keep political parties at bay

“The EC feels the need for wider discussion on the issues raised. The EC is open to widest possible dialogue with all stakeholders on this matter for possible consensus,” read the one page statement.

Students, however, made it clear that they were not withdrawing the agitation but merely postponing it.

Jadavpur University students are agitating against the Bengal government’s decision to replace elected students’ unions in all colleges and universities with nominated councils. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

The JU campus has been on the boil since Thursday evening, with students from the arts, science and engineering departments picketing at the administrative building. The vice chancellor and a number of senior officials were trapped inside for almost 30 hours. The students are opposed to the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to curb the powers of student union members.

Read: Jadavpur University V-C under siege as stir against student union reforms grows

The government introduced the reforms in the wake of clashes during student union elections at colleges across West Bengal and Kolkata. Only JU and Presidency University were untouched by the violence.

Till Friday, education minister Partha Chatterjee was however not willing to offer any concessions for JU students. “Let them agitate as long as they want. The rules will not change. The decision has been taken,” he said.

JU students, on the other hand, want the government to instruct other varsities to follow their example of peacefully conducting union elections instead of imposing the reforms on them.

Read: Students at JU demand Gorkhaland as protests spread to Kolkata

On Friday, JU vice chancellor Suranjan Das had said: “A democratically elected government has made these rules. We will apprise the government of the students’ objections but we cannot oppose it.”

The reforms stipulate that a college lecturer has to be appointed as student council president while another teaching staff made the council’s treasurer. Each class can nominate a single representative, say the rules, instead of the current practice of voting for two.

First Published: Aug 12, 2017 14:17 IST