EDUCATION: Medical students axed for assault – AIDSO launches dharna for suspension withdrawal

EDUCATION: Medical students axed for assault – AIDSO launches dharna for suspension withdrawal – politics on campus ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 3: Three fourth-year students of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital have been suspended for allegedly manhandling faculty members and ransacking the principal’s chamber.

The students, who were served the suspension notices on July 31, alleged that the principal was biased towards the SFI and he had taken the action as they were members of the All-India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO).

About 25 students under the banner of the AIDSO — affiliated to the SUCI — began a dharna in front of the principal’s office yesterday, demanding the revocation of the suspension.

Tushar Kanti Sarkar, Chandan Kumar Shit and Mohammad Sarwar were “suspended from attending any institution related activity including classes, demonstrations and functions”. They have also been “directed to vacate the rooms occupied by them in the men’s hostel till further notice”.

The three said they had gone to meet principal J.B. Saha in his chamber on Saturday to demand a separate room for two of them in one of the medical college hostels.

“The allegations levelled against us are baseless. We had met the principal on July 31 requesting that a separate room be allotted to us. But the principal and some faculty members present in his chamber said first-year students would be given preference and our plea would be considered if rooms were vacant after accommodating them. We had raised only a few slogans against the decision and did not rough up any teacher or ransack the chamber,” said Sarkar, the AIDSO unit secretary at the college.

Sarkar and Shit had applied for a hostel room in February and they have been paying hostel fees since then.

“But we were given a room only in June and, that, too, had to be shared with two others. Normally, a room is occupied by only two students. We moved to Sarwar’s room in the new men’s hostel and were told to adjust till senior students were shifted to the building meant for them. The authorities are biased towards the SFI and they are victimising us because we are AIDSO supporters. We are not being given a separate accommodation, though there are vacant rooms in the hostel,” said Shit.

The college authorities have referred the matter to the director of medical education (DME) and the vice-chancellor of West Bengal University of Health Sciences (WBUHS).

“The decision to suspend the three students was unanimously taken at the College Council meeting. The students manhandled the faculty members, used abusive language against the principal and ransacked his office. The principal has referred the matter to WBUHS vice-chancellor and DME in Calcutta and the next course of action will be taken after discussions with them. We have also called their parents to the college for a meeting,” said R.N. Pramanik, the dean of student affairs at the college.

The authorities denied the allegations that the students were being victimised because they were AIDSO supporters.

“All students irrespective of their political affiliations are equal before us. We are trying to accommodate all first-year students in the hostels because they are new here and not familiar with the surroundings. Shit and Sarkar had been told that they would be given a separate room in 15 days, but they wanted a room immediately,” said Sabyasachi Das, the superintendent of the new men’s hostel.

Red label on job selection – School council offices attacked

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 3: Youth Congress supporters today pasted a sticker on the signboard outside the chamber of the district inspector of schools, identifying it as a CPM hub while a tribal outfit locked up the sub-inspectors’ office in the Dooars for the second day.

Both the outfits had been protesting the alleged nepotism in recruiting primary school teachers in Jalpaiguri district.

Around 10.45am, a group of Youth Congress workers, led by their district president Saikat Chatterjee, pasted a poster on the signboard of the DI (primary)’s office at PWD More in town. “CPM er party office er thikana poribartan…Subodh Sen Bhaban er poriborte DI School (Primary) er office ekhon CPM er jela karyalay” (the address of district CPM party office has changed. Instead of Subodh Sen Bhawan, the DI primary’s office is now the district office of CPM), read the poster.

Demonstrating at the DI office, Chatterjee said the way the officials of the district primary school council (DPSC) had provided jobs to the wives, sons, daughters, friends and the relatives of district CPM leaders, depriving the deserving candidates needed condemnation. “The DI being the secretary of the DPSC cannot evade his responsibility. We want him to give us in writing that the merit list will be cancelled or else he will have to join us in the protest and walk in our rally.”

Soon, the protesters entered DI (primary) Kaushik Roy’s chamber and pasted another poster on the wall behind his chair. The writing was almost the same. As the demonstration continued, officers from Kotwali police station arrested the Youth Congress leader and others before dispersing the protesters.

After the final list to recruit 1,411 teachers in primary schools was published by the DPSC last week, the Opposition had started consistent protests alleging that the candidates have been selected on the basis of their closeness to CPM leaders and not on merit.

A group of Congress Sevadal workers took out a protest march in town and burnt the effigy of DPSC chairperson Mrinal Pal in front of the district CPM office.

Trinamul Youth Congress continued their indefinite dharna for the fifth day today in front of the DPSC office on DBC Road, demanding Pal’s resignation and cancellation of the list. The DPSC office has not been functioning for the past five days for the sit-in.

In Malbazar’s Caltex More, Trinamul Chhatra Parishad supporters blocked NH31 for an hour from 11am on the same issue and burnt Pal’s effigy.

The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad closed down the offices of the block development officers and sub-inspector of schools in Malbazar, Matelli, Nagrakata, Birpara-Madarihat and Kalchini for the second day today.

The DI said he would forward the Youth Congress’s complaints to his superiors.

Pal could not be contacted despite several calls on his cellphone.

Rivals call education strike after college clash

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 3: Two police vehicles were damaged in a clash between SFI and Chhattra Parishad supporters at Siliguri College of Commerce this evening, prompting both the student outfits to call a strike in educational institutions across the subdivision tomorrow.

The college authorities have announced indefinite closure of the institution till normality is restored.

Around 5.45pm, about 20 SFI supporters were attacked allegedly by a mob of over 100 CP activists while coming out of the college after submitting a memorandum to principal Asim Mukherjee protesting a clash that occurred yesterday.

“The CP workers attacked our supporters with rods and batons. Twelve of our supporters were injured and five of them have been hospitalised. We have lodged an FIR against them but neither the police nor the college authorities took any action. In protest, we have called an education strike in the Siliguri subdivision tomorrow and demanded the removal of the inspector in-charge of Siliguri police station,” said Saurav Das, the SFI district secretary.

After a scuffle between the two rivals yesterday, a police picket had been posted at the spot. But the men in khaki could not control the clash that continued for about 20 minutes this afternoon.

Both sides threw stones and attacked each other before senior police officers brought the situation under control with reinforcements around 6pm. The police wielded batons to disperse the mob.

The CP has, however, alleged that the SFI supporters attacked its members. “Around 10 of our members were assaulted by a group of 35 SFI supporters. The SFI has been creating chaos in the college for the past few days. We had lodged an FIR but no action has been taken. In protest, we have called a strike in education institutions in the Siliguri civic area tomorrow,” said Abhijit Roy Chowdhury, the Siliguri Town president of the CP. He also alleged that three district leaders of his party were attacked by the SFI members in Collegepara around 8.45pm.

At 7pm, the SFI blocked Hashmi Chowk, demanding the arrest of CP supporters. The one-and-a-half-hour long agitation created severe traffic congestion on Hill Cart Road.

Principal Mukherjee said adequate police force was not present at the college to avert the incident. “Today’s incident could have been averted if substantial police force was posted. Under the circumstances, we have no option but to close the college until normality returns.”

Deputy superintendent of police of Siliguri Sitaram Sinha said two police vehicles had been damaged in the clash. “The situation is under control and a picket has been posted on the college premises.”

Presidency dash hits VC wall – Panel member says September 3 too early to finalise names

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, Aug. 3: The Bengal government is in danger of tripping on its own plan to fast-track Presidency’s autonomy.

Even before efforts to find a “suitable” candidate — acceptable to the education czars of Alimuddin — formally take off, a member of the one-day-old search committee has ruled out the possibility of meeting the government deadline for appointing a vice-chancellor of Presidency University.

“I have no idea about the deadlines for submitting the names of shortlisted candidates. In my opinion, September 3 will be too early for us to complete even the shortlisting of candidates,” said P.N. Ghosh, the vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University and the convener of the search committee.

Ghosh, along with economist Amiya Bagchi and former director of Indian Statistical Institute Sankar Pal, is part of the three-member committee the higher education department has constituted to select the vice-chancellor.

Higher education secretary Satish Tiwary had told The Telegraph yesterday that the search committee would come up with its recommendations by September 3. Sources in his department said the government was expecting the search committee to draw up its first shortlist by August 20.

Ghosh, however, suggested that he might not be able to remain on the panel if there was pressure on him to complete the selection process in haste. “I will not accept the invitation to join the committee if there is a deadline to finalise the selection of the vice-chancellor by September 3,” said Ghosh.

“Presidency has been given freedom with the hope to upgrade it to a world-class university. We have to be careful in selecting the vice-chancellor,” Ghosh added.

The standard procedure to select a vice-chancellor has several steps starting with the formation of the search committee, which prepares a first list of around 10 candidates either on the basis of recommendations from academicians or from a pool of applicants. A scrutiny whittles down the list to three or four probable candidates, which are then forwarded — with names arranged alphabetically — to the chancellor, the governor in this case.

“In most cases, the search committees in Bengal had hardly followed the standard process as the government and the party wanted their nominees for the top jobs,” said a retired professor of a central university, adding that the process of selecting a vice-chancellor normally takes two to three months.

Setting a one-month deadline even before the delivery of formal appointment letters to two of the committee members – Bagchi and Ghosh – was too ambitious, added the professor.

“If such deadlines are set even before the search starts, it raises natural questions about the process…. Has the government made up its mind? Do they want to use the search committee only as a rubber stamp?” asked an alumnus of the college.

According to the rulebook, the institution must have its first vice-chancellor within three months from the date of governor’s assent. As M.K. Narayanan had put his signature on the Presidency University Bill on July 7, the Bengal government has time till October 7.

The provisions in the act also specify that the duration of the term of the first vice-chancellor is only for a year. The first vice-chancellor can be re-appointed for the second term after the constitution of the policy-making bodies of the university.

Ghosh being the convenor of the panel, it is his responsibility to convene the meetings of the panel. The first meeting is likely to be convened sometime next week.

Although the process of selection of the search committee — familiar faces with known Left connections — has raised doubts about the intention of the government, sources in Writers’ Buildings said that the committee was given the mandate to find the best possible candidates.

“The search committee will take suggestions from outsiders and go through the track record of all the candidates diligently before selecting the vice chancellor,” said the government source.

Correction: The Telegraph report on Tuesday had said erroneously that Kaushik Basu, the adviser to the Union finance ministry, was an alumnus of Presidency College. We apologise for the mistake.

Buddha roots for English

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Krishnagar, Aug. 3: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said students would “lag behind without the knowledge of English”, his renewed thrust on the language coming almost three decades after his party-led government abolished it at the primary level.

“English is an international language. If someone does not know the language, he will have to lag behind,” the chief minister said while laying the foundation stone of the state’s first English medium madrasah here.

Bhattacharjee, who was on a tour of Nadia, said English was necessary in all fields, from getting jobs to running businesses and urged the madrasah students to study “science, mathematics and English” apart from the regular religious studies.

He also held up the language as a bridge within the multi-lingual country. “English is such a language that it is useful even in a country like India. In our country, we have many regional languages like Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. But if you know English you will be able travel everywhere.”

The chief minister has dwelt on the theme several times before, even at madrasah gatherings.

The CPM-led Left Front had abolished English at the primary level in the early 1980s.

But following pressure from large sections of the public as well as from within a section of the CPM and Left Front partners to review the move, the Pabitra Sarkar Committee was set up in 1997.

The panel submitted its report in 1998 following which English was introduced from Class III the same year and from Class-I six years later.

Bhattacharjee later laid the foundation for a Rabindra Bhavan at Ranaghat in Nadia and announced that the government would renovate Rabindranath Tagore’s residence at Jorasanko in north Calcutta.

“The government will also set up a Rabindra Prangan at New Town in Rajarhat where exhibitions highlighting various aspects in Tagore’s life will be held.”

Later in the afternoon, the chief minister inaugurated a new administrative building in Tehatta and urged government officers to “listen to the problems of the poor people and try to redress their problems”.

“Don’t ignore the poor people. Listen to their problems. Try to address them.”

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