Poush mela turns into protest ground against V-B VC

Surojit Ghosh Hazra

Kolkata, Dec. 26 -- The restive air in the Visva Bharati campus over the alleged obnoxious ways of vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta reached Poush Mela on Tuesday, with Ashramites and alumni raising the voice of protest against the man, who continues to be in the eye of a gathering storm on the hallowed campus.

Ashramites and alumni in their hundreds gathered early at Amrakunja on Alumni Day and rallied against the vice-chancellor. In keeping with the age-old tradition, former students from across the globe came in numbers and used the Alumni Day event as a veritable platform to vent their misgivings over the VC's alleged misconducts. They raised placards and shouted slogans, calling for action against the VC.

The incident marked a new low in the history of Visva Bharati, as never before have the former students vented their ire against the VC in a way as was witnessed in the Push Mela ground on the day.

The scenes of protest at a time scores of visitors from across the country and overseas are flocking Santiniketan to bask in the year-end festivities, came as a source of major embarrassment for the varsity authorities.

Over the last few months Duttagupta had drawn complaints from several key varsity mandarins, including former vice-chancellor Rajat Kanta Ray. The complaints were channeled to President Pranab Mukherjee, also the visitor of the varsity and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chancellor, bringing charges of misconduct against Duttagupta and seeking urgent disciplinary action against him.

The charges against the current VC include drawing pension and salary at the same time, in flagrant violation of the Visva Bharati Act, laundering money from the varsity coffers to foot his alcohol bills and a continuing reign of terror on the hallowed campus under his watch.

The Visva Bharati Alumni Association, a statutory body, put in a request with chief minister Mamata Banerjee to mobilise action against the vice chancellor.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.