Kolkata, Sep 23 :
The five-member probe panel constituted by the West Bengal government to carry out “preliminary enquiry” into the alleged sexual assault of a Jadavpur University student Tuesday met the girl while a group of vice chancellors of various varsities urged protesting students to withdraw the agitation and expressed support with their embattled colleague.
Declaring solidarity for Jadavpur varsity Vice Chancellor Abhijit Chakarborty, as many as seven vice chancellors of varsities from the state appealed to the students to resume their academic activities.
“We appeal to the students to return to the routine classes and restore normalcy on campus. We have full faith in the students and faculty that they will ensure peace on campus and impose discipline and maintain dignity.
“We believe matters can be sorted through discussions and negotiations on both sides. Students are losing a lot of their academic calendar because of this,” Kalyani University vice chancellor R.L. Hangloo told IANS.
The protests, under the banner of ‘Hok Kolorob’ (Let there be shouts), began Sep 17 when university authorities allegedly ordered a police crackdown to break up a peaceful sit-in of students pressing for an independent investigation into an alleged molestation of a woman student inside a hostel last month.
However, the group of vice-chancellors refrained from commenting on the alleged police crackdown.
“We declare solidarity with Chakraborty. He is a very competent vice chancellor. He single-handedly brought Jadavpur to a position of pride. It is not fair to him,” Hangloo said.
The West Bengal government Monday announced a five-member panel to probe the alleged sexual harassment of a female student of the University, but the protesting students rejected it besides turning down the varsity registrar’s appeal to withdraw academic boycott.
“Now that the state government has formed a committee, it has been taken care of,” he said.
The protestors said they would not relent unless a probe committee was constituted in accordance with the Supreme Court’s Vishakha case guidelines and decided to hold a “citizens’ convention” Wednesday and a rally Thursday to submit a deputation to the city police headquarters at Lalbazar deputation demanding withdrawal of the cases against 36 students who were arrested.
Calcutta University Vice Chancellor Suranjas Das, who heads the panel, said the committee has “got nothing to do with Vishakha guidelines.” The members visited the woman student Tuesday
“The state government has directed us to carry out preliminary enquiry and establish prima facie whether sexual assault has occurred or not,” he said.