Shift Visva-Bharati protest, break locks: Calcutta HC – Times of India

Kolkata News

KOLKATA/SANTINIKETAN: The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the Santiniketan police to remove the ongoing students’ demonstration outside the Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor’s official residence, break open the locks on the university gates and ordered the university authorities to immediately restore “normal functioning”.
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha banned demonstrations within 50 metres of vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty’s residence ‘Purbita’, classrooms, the central administrative zone and the central library and ordered a ban on the use of loudspeakers on the university campus. “This is a students’ agitation, not a trade union movement,” the court observed, also directing the VC and students not to make any “provocative comment”.
The court’s observations came a day after Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan advised the university against suspending the admission process and withholding final-semester results, which the university had resorted to, saying the campus was “under siege”.
The agitation outside the VC’s residence since August 27 had also prompted the acting registrar to move the high court on the ground that the VC was “confined” to his residence.
The court set a deadline of 4pm on Friday for the officer-in-charge of Santiniketan PS to comply with the directive. It also directed the Police to provide three constables, in addition to the university security guards, for the VC’s protection. The three constables took position before 3 pm. The agitating students started dismantling the dharna shamiana in front of the VC’s residence a little after 3pm and shifted the dharna to a place near the Purbapalli guest house. “We will comply with the court order. But our agitation will continue. The court didn’t say anything on our agitation,” said student leader Somnath Sou.
The shifting started before Bolpur SDPO Abhishek Roy entered the campus with a large police force, following the court order. The SDPO reached out to university public relation officer Anirban Sarkar and asked him to show them the points of “obstructions and barricades”. The police opened the locks at the university gate to the central administrative zone and asked the students whether they had locked the entrance to the VC’s residence. The cops broke open the lock in front of the agitating students after they pleaded innocence and removed the “temporary obstructions” to the CCTV cameras on campus. The Bolpur SDPO assured free ingress and egress of the vice-chancellor and other employees.
Justice Mantha did not get into the arguments and counter-arguments made by counsels in the courtroom on Friday for and against the Visva-Bharati authorities. “The court notes with anguish that the functioning of a university, which grooms the citizens of the future, has been disrupted,” he observed.