Other States

Violence erupts in Visva Bharati, Jagdeep Dhankar dials Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Violence erupted in Visva-Bharati, a Central university in West Bengal, on Monday as locals protesting against the construction of a boundary wall on Poush Mela grounds ransacked the campus.

Poush Mela, the annual winter fair organised by the university, draws thousands of people from the State. The locals were opposed to the the boundary wall construction. Thousands of people led by local Trinamool Congress leaders stopped the construction work, took control of the equipment, including an earthmover and brought down some structures on the campus. Videos of angry mobs ransacking university property were circulated on social media and aired by local television channels.

Governor talks to CM

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar took to social media saying he spoke to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

“Just had word with (the) Chief Minister over Visva Bharati's worsening law and order scenario. She has assured that administration @MamataOfficial will take all steps to restore law and order. Am sure those enjoined with ( the) task will rise to the occasion”, he said on Twitter.

Later in the day, the Chief Minister told journalists that she did not want any construction at the university that would spoil its natural beauty.

“I do not want any construction, the construction that will barricade the natural beauty of the place. We have to keep in mind that construction does not always bring the message of natural beauty,” she said. Maintaining that Visva-Bharati is a central university, she styated that she had directed the administration to amicably sort out the issue. “ I learnt that some construction activities were going on and some outsiders were present. Students and people of Bolpur did not like it,” she added.

Suspension of activities

Meanwhile, the university authorities have sent a proposal to the Centre to suspend all activities till normality prevailed. A representative of University Executive Council Sushobhan Banerjee expressed regret that despite large deployment of police there was no intervention from the authorities to prevent the violence.

Located in Birbhum district, the university was set up by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. Over the past few years, the university, located at a place called Santiniketan, which means abode of peace, has been in news for violence and protests on the campus.

In 2019, the National Green Tribunal issued a series of recommendations to organise Poush Mela, which involved the setting up of solid waste and sewage treatment plants. Unable to implement these recommendations, the university has decided to cancel the carnival this winter season and this has enraged the locals.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 8:54:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/violence-erupts-in-visva-bharati-jagdeep-dhankar-dials-mamata-banerjee/article32374046.ece

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