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Dhakhar heckled twice at JU by students protesting CAA, NRC

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Dhakhar heckled twice at JU by students protesting CAA, NRC
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Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday was heckled and shown black flags twice at the Jadavpur University, a hotbed of anti-CAA protests, a day after he declared as "illegal and invalid" the varsity's decision to defer the December 24 special convocation because of possible trouble.

The students threatened to protest again not to take degrees from him if Dhankhar visits the campus at Tuesday's annual convocation, where his presence was not required by the statute of the institute.

Protesting against the governor's stand on the proposed nationwide NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the students surrounded his car, shouted slogans and showed him black flags when he arrived at the university around 2 pm to attend a meeting of the university Court, its highest decision-making body.

Dhankhar was heckled again when he was leaving the university around 2 hours later without attending the meeting due to the presence of a large number of protesting students separating the room where he had been seated and the one where the meeting was going on, officials said.

The governor was stuck amid chaos for around 30 minutes each time due to protests by the CPI(M)-backed SFI, Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU), AISA and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union (FETSU).

"After he could not attend Court meeting due to agitation by stakeholders including students and non-teaching staff, the hon'ble Chancellor called me up requesting me to hold the meeting at Raj Bhavan," Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das told reporters later.

But the Court members unanimously decided that the meeting should not be shifted elsewhere as it had already started at the JU campus, the VC said.

Earlier, Das had intervened when the governor was stopped near the university's gate by the students and he was escorted to the venue of the meeting at the Aurobindo Bhavan.

When the protesters blocked his way again when he was leaving, Dhankhar said he had a hunch that he would face protests but still decided to visit the campus to find a way out of the impasse over cancellation of the special convocation in which honorary doctoral degrees would be conferred to eminent personalities.

"I do not want your careers to be affected due to the situation. I came here to discuss with you and find a way out," he said as the 300 students gheraoed him at the stairs of the Aurobindo Bhavan.

When the students questioned him on police action at the Jamia Millia Islamia campus in Delhi, Dhankhar said he is the governor of West Bengal and can answer queries about this state only.

Stating that he believes in the autonomy of educational institutes and does not work at the behest of any political party, Dhankhar told them that he will be glad to sit and discuss their issues.

The university's Executive Council (EC) had on Saturday decided not to hold the special convocation in view of the threat of students' bodies to show black flag to him.

The JU authorities said it will only hold the annual ceremony in which only students will be awarded degrees and certificates. The Chancellor's presence is not required in it.

After the Court meeting, the vice-chancellor said the convocation will be held as scheduled on Tuesday morning.

About the letter of the governor questioning the legality of the EC's decision, he said, "As per the statute, the Court approves EC resolution of cancelling special convocation and holding annual convocation on December 24."        He said the Court noted "with heavy heart" some observations of the Chancellor about the university and the higher education in the state, and terming the EC's annual convocation decision as illegal in his letter."  

"Let me iterate that as per the statute, the decision by EC is valid and all degrees to be awarded to students and researchers are valid," the vice-chancellor said.

To a question, he said "If the chancellor comes, he will preside over the convocation and if he presides, he will also speak."

Asked whether there would be police arrangements to ensure no protest is held during convocation, Das said "We never call the police inside the campus. But our own security arrangements will be there."

AFSU member Gitasree said, "We will not boycott the annual Convocation in the interest of students. But we will certainly protest if the Chancellor again visits tomorrow. We will not take degrees from him. We hope the varsity will not commit such an act."

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