Police use force to end Visva-Bharati chief’s confinement

July 18th, 2010 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Santiniketan (West Bengal), July 18 (IANS) At least 20 people were reportedly injured when police used force to end a 14-hour “gherao” (confinement) of Visva Bharati University Vice Chancellor Rajat Kanta by students demanding a rollback of the tuition fee hike.
Protesting the police action in the wee hours Sunday, the students called an indefinite strike in the university and burnt effigies of the vice chancellor and other senior officials.

The students have also decided to apprise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the university’s chancellor, of the “police atrocities”.

The students alleged that their agitation was peaceful and democratic.

“We ‘gheraoed’ (confined) the VC (vice chancellor) but we neither hurt anybody nor destroyed the university property. But the authorities called in the police who beat us up without any provocation. Twenty of us sustained injuries in the baton charge,” said an agitating student leader.

But the sub-divisional officer, Bolpur, Ashok Das, said police resorted to a “mild baton charge” after the students refused to withdraw the confinement.

“There was no other way that we could have rescued the vice chancellor and other officials who were under siege for over 14 hours,” Das said.

On Sunday the students called for a strike before taking a silent procession through Bolpur town.

The university teachers’ union, the employees’ union and the alumni association have condemned the police action.

Visva-Bharati University was founded by Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore on a seven acre plot in the sylvan surroundings of Santiniketan, about 160 km from Kolkata, in Birbhum district. It is now a central university.

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