The authorities of the Visva Bharati University in West Bengal’s Shantiniketan have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to deploy central security forces on its campus, a day after a mob entered the varsity’s premises and ransacked it, PTI reported on Tuesday.
“The executive council [of the university] has unanimously decided to write to the honourable chancellor [the prime minister] for deployment of any of the central security forces to deal with security issues on the campus,” an unidentified senior official told the news agency.
The decision to seek the prime minister’s intervention came after the West Bengal Police allegedly did not respond to calls during Monday’s incident, NDTV reported.
So far, nine people have been arrested in connection with the incident, Birbhum district’s Superintendent of Police Shyam Singh said. Another senior police officer said they were looking into the incident.
On Monday, violent protests broke out on the varsity’s campus after it decided to construct a boundary wall in an adjoining open ground where the Poush Mela is held. In the evening on the same day, the university announced it was shutting down until the situation improved.
The Poush Mela is an annual winter fair organised by the university, which draws thousands of people from the state. However, Visva Bharati has decided to suspend this year’s gathering, citing its “bitter experience” of the previous two years in asking traders to comply with the National Green Tribunal’s guidelines.
Thousands of people turned up in front of the university shortly after the construction work began on Monday morning. Protestors, reportedly led by Trinamool Congress leader Naresh Bauri, ransacked the campus, demolished two gates using earthmovers and seized raw materials such as cement and bricks. The protestors also vandalised a temporary office set up inside the campus for the construction work.
The Visva Bharati is a centrally-funded autonomous university founded by Rabindranath Tagore. It has 10 sub-institutions. The university holds many classes in open in line with Tagore’s wish to create a campus where students would study in the midst of nature. The prime minister is the chancellor of Visva Bharati.
Around 50 people – students, ashramites and alumni – also organised an hour long sit-in before the university’s prayer hall. Several local traders’ bodies, for whom the winter fair is a major source of income, have also been staging protests outside Visva Bharati since Saturday.