Bengal varsity lock-in continues, officials hint at talks

Kolkata, Sep 20 : The lock-in of Jadavpur University's vice chancellor and other officials continued Friday, but the varsity's administration refused to yield to the demands of the students protesting the suspension of two of them for ragging while hinting at talks.

The students from the engineering and humanities departments started the agitation Wednesday afternoon, laying siege to the Aurobindo Bhavan, the administrative block. Around 400 students have been sloganeering from time to time and holding aloft posters demanding suspension of the two be revoked immediately. A section of students has been camping outside the office all night.

"We are adhering to our decision of suspension. We are going with the decision of the anti-ragging committee...our stand is the same as it was before the gherao," said Pro Vice Chancellor Sidhartha Datta.

"The students have been shouting slogans and boycotted classes. They are demanding that the two accused (for ragging) be let off. But the anti-ragging committee probing the matter has found them guilty...so we can't do anything now," said Registrar Pradip Kumar Ghosh.

The two students were suspended Sep 11 after a second year engineering student filed a complaint to the University Grants Commission (UGC) that he was beaten up last month.

The UGC forwarded the complaint to the university authorities, who constituted a probe panel which found the two students guilty of ragging.

A final year student of construction engineering was suspended for two semesters, and a fourth year student of the printing technology department was handed a one-semester suspension.

During the suspension period, the two students would not be allowed to stay in the hostel where the incident occurred, said Ghosh.

"We had issued a show cause notice...the suspension will come into effect very soon. We will negotiate and discuss with the angry students," said Ghosh.

The students, however, claim the ragging was "an internal disciplinary ritual".

West Bengal Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu expressed disapproval of the students' agitation and said "it is not the way to go about it".

"There were discussions of student groups sans politics..there were talks of keeping politics and education separate," he said.

"What has been happening at the university is a clear example of what happens when you keep both separate. I hope the issue can be resolved with discussions between the students and officials," said Basu.

Echoing Basu, Datta hinted at possible negotiations with the students to resolve the current impasse.

"From previous experiences we have seen that such issues calm down after discussions...I think this time also we can arrive at a solution," he said.

--IANS (Posted on 20-09-2013)

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