Commenting on the vandalism at Presidency University on April 10, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday questioned why there was violence in “academic institutions of excellence.”
“Why should there be violence in academic institution of excellence,” wondered Justice Biswanath Somadder, who is hearing a petition filed by the West Bengal State Election Commission regarding the rural polls to be held in the State.
Raising concerns about the law and order situation in the State and the need for Central paramilitary forces for the conduct of the polls, the counsel for the Commission Samaraditya Pal had mentioned the heckling of the State’s Finance Minister Amit Mitra in New Delhi and its “repercussions in various parts of West Bengal including Presidency University.”
Government Pleader Ashok Banerjee said campus violence was a consequence of “teachers becoming involved in politics.”
Mr. Banerjee said after the incident, the Registrar of the varsity had told television channels that the situation warranted the deployment of “paramilitary forces” — mirroring the demand made by the State Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the inquiry committee constituted by the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) to probe into the vandalism last week started its investigations during the day.
Led by Amal Mukherjee, former principal of the Presidency College, it interrogated a total of 19 eyewitnesses, including the Vice Chancellor, registrar, dean of students, controller of examination, eight students and a number of non-academic staff of the University.
“Our job is to come up with the truth,” Mr. Mukherjee said.
“We provided two lists to the investigating team of WBHRC. One list contained the names of the eyewitnesses of the incident at the main building and the other that of the Baker Laboratory ruckus,” said Prabir Dasgupta, registrar of the university.
The academic community and the alumni of the institution have strongly condemned the incident. While vandalism of the university by a group of people carrying flags of the student wing of the Trinamool Congress and the attack on students in the campus had evoked strong criticism from the academic community, the alumni of the institution has also joined it in condemning the incident.
“We condemn the attack and stand with our students, faculty members and the Vice Chancellor. We demand that the College Street, where the institution is located, be declared a silent zone thereby banning all political rallies and demonstration,” said Bibhas Chowdhury, secretary of the university’s alumni institution.