KOLKATA: The heritage
University was on Monday shut down indefinitely following violent protests against the varsity’s decision to construct a boundary wall around the venue of Poush Mela, a prestigious annual cultural event started more than a century ago.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee came out against the fencing, while Governor Jagdeep Dhankar expressed concern over the situation.
Trouble erupted at the Visva Bharati campus in Monday as a large number of people ransacked the university’s properties protesting erection of the boundary wall at the fair ground.
Sources said that the university authorities had decided to fence the ground where the annual winter carnival started in 1894 by Debendranath Tagore, father of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, is held and the construction work started in the morning.
Following the incidents of violence, the varsity authorities decided to bring the matter to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the Hon’ble Chancellor of the university, and decided to close down the university campus till the situation improves.
However, admission, examination process and emergency services would be taken care of.
The Trinamool Congress government condemned the violence, but threw its weight behind the protestors, as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she doesn’t want any construction to take place on that site and has asked the district administration to call meeting of the stakeholders.
According to district officials, tension between the locals and the university authorities have been simmering for last few days over the latter’s decision to construct a boundary wall around the venue of the fair held in the Bengali month of Poush, usually December-end.
On Saturday miffed by the decision of Visva Bharati to call off “Poush Mela’ from this year, a local traders’ body prevented the university authorities from erecting a boundary wall along with the fair ground.
The tension snowballed into large scale violence after 4,000 people assembled near the campus this morning and then entered ransacking some properties and pulling down one of the university gates built outside the ground using a JCB machine.
On the basis of the suo moto complaint lodged by police eight persons have been arrested in connection with Monday’s vandalism ,” Shyam Singh, SP, Birbhum said.
According to sources, Trinamool Congress MLA from Dubrajpur, Naresh Bauri, who is also a former student of Visva Bharati, was present when ransacking was taking place.
“I am present here not as a TMC leader but as a former student of the university. The construction of the boundary wall is unacceptable. The university authorities are behaving strangely,” Bauri said.
The construction workers were thrashed, and the temporary camp office was also razed to the ground
Sources said a wall around the field was needed so that “outsiders” do not get access to it, which had angered the local traders.
The university authorities said that the fence is required to honour verdict of the National Green Tribunal, which had on November 1, 2017, said that a “barrier needs to be constructed to demarcate the Me