Presidency VC refuses to quit, forms committee for dialogue

Kolkata, Aug 25 (IANS) Refusing to quit, Presidency University vice chancellor Anuradha Lohia on Tuesday denied being affiliated to any political party and named a seven-member committee to hold dialogue with the agitating students.

“Resignation will not happen. I am not close to anybody. I am close to my family, my faculty and students,” Lohia told media persons here.

The varsity is on the boil since last Friday with a section of students demanding the vice chancellor’s resignation and confining her for over 24 hours in her office, claiming non-action following alleged police assault.

The students have been agitating, saying many of them were roughed up by police on Friday during West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visit to the College Street campus of the university.

But their form of protest has been likened to “hooliganism” and criticised by almost all sections.

Lohia said that since President Pranab Mukherjee was unable to attend the third convocation ceremony, she extended the invitation to Banerjee as per protocol.

The students apologised for their unruly behaviour on Monday during their protests but refused to back down from their stand.

On Tuesday, Lohia tried to reason with some students who were demonstrating in her office but was unable to elicit a response.

The vice chancellor said she has constituted the committee since the students have declined to interact with her.

The committee consists of heads of departments and dean of students. They will be submitting a report in a week, she said. “They will see what the students want and what can be done.”

However, the agitating students have asserted they would not interact with the committee.

“We are not accepting the committee and will not engage in any dialogue with the members,” a student said, adding they have a few demands which must be met.

The students claim the day before the chief minister arrived, a notification was issued, asking they must attend Banerjee’s lecture.

Denouncing the move, the students have also pressed for action against those behind the vandalising of the heritage Baker Laboratory of the university in 2013.

The students had also called for a boycott of the university’s third convocation on Saturday. However, the event took place without any interruption. Lohia was allowed to go home late Saturday evening.

On Friday, the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad — the students’ wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress — took out a rally in the city denouncing the Presidency agitation.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have slammed the Trinamool for interfering in education in the state.

Lohia on Saturday stood firm on her decision to not quit, and said Governor K.N. Tripathi supported her stand.

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