Swapan Dasgupta on campus Wednesday. (ANI Photo)
Rajya Sabha member and BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and several others were confined to a room on the Santiniketan campus for over seven hours Wednesday by members of the SFI who protested the university’s decision to invite Dasgupta to
deliver a lecture on the new citizenship law.
Late at night, the SFI members ended their sit-in, allowing Dasgupta and others to emerge from the room. Earlier, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar spoke to the DGP, while BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya urged the administration to intervene. Taking to Twitter, Dasgupta said: “Drama ends in Vishwa Bharati without the confrontation that some protesters desperately wanted.”
A nominated Rajya Sabha member, Dasgupta was to speak on “The CAA-2019: Understanding and Interpretation” as part of the Visva Bharati Lecture Series at the university’s Lipika auditorium. The lecture, scheduled for 3.30 pm, was to be chaired by Vice-Chancellor Chakraborty.
The protests began as soon as Dasgupta reached the campus. Students raised slogans and objected after they saw local BJP leaders accompanying him to the campus. He could not enter the auditorium and was taken to a guest house and kept there with others. The protesting students began a gherao and a sit-in, confining Dasgupta and others to the room for over seven hours.
In a tweet, Dasgupta said: “There are nearly 70 people locked inside a room in Vishwa Bharati, Santiniketan, for the crime of attending an official, university-convened lecture by me on CAA. This includes the VC. There is a howling mob outside itching for confrontation.”
Governor Dhankhar, in a tweet, said: “Talked to DG Police Virendra Kumar about serious situation of confinement of Rajya Sabha MP Dr Swapan Dasgupta along with VC Viswa Bharati and many others for several hours, and urged him to take swiftly necessary steps. Such anarchy and failure of law and order is worrisome. The incident is reflective of worsening situation of law and order in the State. It is of serious concern that Governance is taking a back seat. Time to take a serious look at this.”
In a video post, Vijayvargiya said: “Our Rajya Sabha MP is being gheraoed at Visva Bharati by SFI members. I want to give an ultimatum to the police and Mamata Banerjee’s administration that if anything happens to him, then there will be consequences. I will appeal to the administration to ensure his safety.”
Around 10.30 pm, the students ended their protest. Somnath Sau, the university’s SFI unit leader, told reporters: “We are ending our protest as we have registered our reservations to a lecture being held on CAA. We don’t want to see BJP leaders coming to the campus and spreading hatred to divide communities. We have made our voices heard through today’s protest.”
Earlier, Dasgupta told The Indian Express: “This is nothing but Left fascism. They want to have a confrontation. However, we will not respond to it.”