Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan in West Bengal’s Birbhum district has evicted a student from hostel for recording the vice chancellor’s speech on Constitution during a Republic Day event, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday. The university claimed that the video was used to tarnish Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty’s image.
“Today, those who are opposing the CAA are reading the Preamble,” Chakrabarty reportedly said at an event at the university boys’ hostel. “But this Constitution was drafted by ‘minority’ votes. [Only] 293 people met at the Constituent Assembly and drafted the Constitution. If you read papers of that time, [you will find] many people opposed it. Now that has became the Vedas for us. Preamble has become the Vedas. But if we do not like [the Preamble], we, who are voters and form Parliament, will change it.”
After a backlash for the comments, university officials were asked to check CCTV footage to identify the student who recorded the video. The undergraduate student was questioned on Monday night and given the eviction notice. The student, who did not want to be identified, left the hostel on the next morning.
“As I have been directed to leave the hostel, I have come to my home,” the student told the newspaper. “Now I have to live in a rented house...Please don’t call me as I don’t want to be involved in such issues as that can create more problems for me.”
The eviction notice was reportedly handwritten on a sheet of paper, and did not contain the university seal. “This is regarding recording and formal transmission of video of the VC’s speech at PSBH compound shot on your mobile,” it read. “As you are aware of the method and manner of external posting of your video on social media, you are hereby asked to further remove all your personal belongings within next 24 hours.”
University Proctor Sankar Majumdar said the student’s video was disruptive and defamed the vice chancellor, PTI reported.
Visva Bharati’s Public Relations Officer Anirban Sarkar alleged the student had intentionally shared an edited version of the speech to malign Chakrabarty and distort his remarks, Hindustan Times reported.
In a statement, the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association criticised the university administration, and demanded the order’s withdrawal. The association’s President Sudipta Bhattacharya said the student did not alter the speech. “If there is some ‘disruptive and defamatory’ content in it, VC himself is responsible,” she added. “VBUFA strongly demands that the order may be immediately withdrawn and the student is reinstated in the hostel.”
This latest controversy emerged days after a group of students filed a police complaint against the vice chancellor after a video emerged in which he was allegedly heard telling people at a public meeting to “teach a lesson” to some Left-leaning students. A university spokesperson had then claimed that the video was doctored to malign the administration’s image.
Students from Leftist organisations linked the video to the assault on a couple of students on campus on January 15. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was blamed for the attack. The right-wing outfit allegedly retaliated against students affiliated to the Left after Bharatiya Janata Party MP Swapan Dasgupta claimed he was heckled and held hostage inside a room when he visited the campus earlier this month to address an event on the Citizenship Amendment Act.