Kolkata: On the warpath with West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, students of Jadavpur University have decided to “rusticate” him as the chancellor over a host of issues, including his stand on the contentious Citizenship Act.
In an e-mail to Raj Bhavan on December 24, the day Dhankhar was prevented by protesters from attending the annual convocation of the university, the Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) said, “Sir, you are not welcome in our campus.”
Opposing the governor’s views on “various contemporary issues,” the mail said, “As you do not act like an unbiased constitutional head and since your attitude is not at all guardian-like towards the students, you are not welcome in our campus.”
The students body is now preparing a ‘report card’ on his functioning and will attach an ‘open letter’ where “we will rusticate him in a symbolic manner as chancellor of a premier institution like JU which has always encouraged liberal space and inclusiveness”, AFSU leader Ushashi Paul said on Thursday.
The open letter will recall his “unsatisfactory” reply to questions of attack on Jamia Millia Islamia students, his support of the new citizenship law and “silence” on the death of protesters in alleged police firing in Uttar Pradesh, Paul said.
JU Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das did not take phone calls when PTI tried to reach him for a response.
The governor, who has had frequent run-ins with the Mamata Banerjee government and JU students, was shown black flags on Monday when he had gone to the campus to attend a meeting of the University Court, the university’s highest decision making body.
His entry was blocked the next day as he made a failed attempt to attend the convocation, an incident that prompted a livid Dhankhar to allege a “total collapse of rule of law”.
The university authorities, however, went ahead with the convocation at a function chaired by the vice chancellor.
One of the recipients tore a copy of the controversial citizenship law on stage while receiving her degree.
The West Bengal government had recently trimmed the governor’s power as the chancellor of universities, notifying a set of new rules governing his interaction with vice chancellors.
Under the new rules, the chancellor cannot intervene in the day-to-day affairs of universities, nor can he advise university officials directly.
All communication between the chancellor and senior university officials will also have to be routed through the state’s higher education department.
Dhankhar’s visit to Jadavpur University in September to “rescue” Union Minister Babul Supriyo from a clutch of frenzied students had set off a verbal duel between the state government and Raj Bhavan, with recriminatory tweets being exchanged between the two almost on a daily basis.
Dhankhar had recently berated Banerjee for her decision to launch street protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens, insisting that a person occupying a constitutional position should desist from such action.
As violent protests raged in West Bengal over the new citizenship law, Dhankhar had advised the chief minister to focus on restoring law and order instead of engaging in “unconstitutional and inflammatory” actions.