Kolkata: A fierce protest by a group of students forced West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday to skip the Calcutta University (CU) annual convocation at the event. Dhankhar blamed the Mamata Banerjee government for the “obstruction.”
This was perhaps the first time in the CU's history founded in 1857 when the Governor being the Chancellor also was stopped from presiding over its annual convocation. It was also the second time in a month when Dhankhar was prevented by agitating students from attending a varsity convocation. He was stopped from entering the Jadavpur University campus to attend the convocation on December 24.
Calling Dhankhar a ‘BJP agent’ over the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register, the CU students demanded that their vice-chancellor Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee instead of the Governor should hand over the D.Litt to the Nobel Laureate. In the afternoon Dhankhar reached the venue, Nazrul Mancha in south Kolkata in his convoy.
Angry students shouted ‘Go Back’ slogans and showed black flags to him. Outnumbering the Governor’s security personnel including a team CRPF commandoes, they gheraoed his sedan and even hit its bonnet. Dhankhar remained stranded inside his car till the demonstrators were dispersed by his security personnel. Walking into the auditorium’s green room he congratulated Prof Banerjee and signed the D.Litt Dhankhar, however, could not go to the dais as the students shifted their agitation in front of it. The CU V-C announced of accepting the students’ demand after failing to pacify them. Dhankhar left the venue. The students’ agitation also ended. The CU V-C conferred the D.Litt on Prof Banerjee on the dais later.
Dhankhar vented his anger and anguish in a series of tweets. He tweeted, “The uppermost thought in mind while leaving Calcutta University without attending the Convocation is to ensure there is no compromise of the immense respect we have for Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee on whom we are conferring honorary D Litt (honoris causa). I have signed the D.Litt (honoris causa) in the presence of Abhijeet Bannerjee, VC and others.”
Describing Prof Banerjee as “A man of sterling qualities and disarming grace”, the Governor underlined that he was “Greatly touched by his modest approach and depth.”
He, however noted, “Those who compromised culture and decorum need to be in reflective mode. Had some memorable moments with Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee and his mother after wearing the robe for Convocation.”
Dhankhar observed, “The actions of those who created or stage managed unseemly spectacle would resonate for long in the ears of cultured people of WB.
VC sought permission from me as Chancellor to proceed with the Convocation. In view of the enormous respect I have for Abhijit Bannerjee and mindful of the reputation of the iconic Calcutta University, I accorded the same.”
He added, “Convocation of Calcutta University was at Nazrul Mancha auditorium and not on the campus of Calcutta University. There was total failure of the state machinery to maintain law and order. The obstruction was stage managed. This happens to constitutional head. Where are we heading!”...