Kolkata, July 2 (IANS) Branding the assault on teachers allegedly by supporters of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress students’ wing as “unfortunate”, Calcutta University vice chancellor Suranjan Das on Thursday admitted that the incident was a setback to the institution’s heritage.
Das had denied the incident on Wednesday.
His “intention” was questioned by hundreds of teachers and professors, who on Thursday staged a march in the city condemning the assault. Holding aloft banners and posters saying “Shame” and “Yes to education, no to violence”, the agitators walked from Rajabazar to College Street where the university is located.
In a volte-face, Das on Thursday acknowledged the ruckus.
“One should not violate other’s rights. I know who were behind it. It was an unprecedented, unfortunate and disgraceful incident. It is a setback to the university’s heritage,” Das said.
A section of faculty and employees alleged that members of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) assaulted them and manhandled vice chancellor Das on Wednesday.
The incident occurred while the teachers were agitating against the suspension of finance officer Harisadhan Ghosh over allegations of corruption.
Das, who submitted a report on matter to the state education department and met Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Thursday, clarified he did not want to make a statement before handing in the report.
“We are of the opinion that such things should not happen in the future. The minister will meet the university’s agitating teacher on Friday,” Das said.
Wednesday’s scuffle triggered a spate of protests, including a sit-in demonstration where many teachers and intellectuals along with former Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly condemned the “attack on democracy”.
Participants in both protests expressed concern over the rising instances of campus violence.
“The assault on the teachers is condemnable but what is unfortunate is the vice chancellor, instead of standing against the attack, has denied it. Perhaps he is more concerned about his future,” said one of the protestors, a retired professor.
“What kind of place are we living in where assault on teachers is a spectacle to enjoy for students. What is most unfortunate is our education minister, instead of acting against this attack on democracy, has denied the incident,” said Ganguly, referring to Chatterjee who on Wednesday claimed that the vice chancellor denied the assault.
“The vice chancellor told me nobody has assaulted him and no such incident happened. I have sought a report of the whole incident from him,” Chatterjee had said on Wednesday.
While the TMCP denied the assault, the Trinamool-backed West Bengal College and University Professors’ Association (WBCUPA) claimed it was the students who were assaulted by the teachers.
The Students Federation of India also held a rally against the assault.
On Wednesday, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee also condemned the assault and expressed alarm over the degrading of education sector in the state.