SFI protests force BJP MP, Visva-Bharati VC to remain confined in building

(Eds: with the latest development) Kolkata, Jan 8 (PTI) BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta, Visva- Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and several others on Wednesday had to remain confined to a building of the central university outside which hundreds of Left leaning students staged a sit-in, accusing the politician of promoting hatred among communities, officials said.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya expressed concern over the situation and asked the state government to arrange for the safety of Dasgupta who was invited by the varsity to deliver a lecture on the contentious Citizenship (Amended) Act (CAA).

'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,' Dasgupta said in a tweet.

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya threatened the TMC government in the state that if anything happens to Dasgupta, the consequences would be serious.

'Swapan Dasgupta has been gheraoed by the goons of the SFI and TMC. He is inside. The police is nowhere to be seen.

The life and honour of Swapan Dasgupta are very important,' Vijayvargiya said in a video message.

'I urge (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee and the state administration to arrange for his safety and security.

Otherwise the consequences will be grave,' the senior BJP leader said in the video which has been retweeted by Dasgupta.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said the incident is reflective of the worsening situation of law and order in the State.

'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,' Dhankhar said.

'It is of serious concern that Governance is taking a back seat. Time to take a serious look at this,' he said in a tweet.

The journalist-turned lawmaker was innvited to speak on 'The CAA-2019: Understanding and Interpretation' as a part of the Visva-Bharati Lecture Series at the Lipika Auditorium of Santiniketan.

Following protests by the Students Federation of India (SFI) workers, the venue was shifted to another auditorium of Social Work department at Sriniketan, the second but contiguous campus of the Visva-Bharati.

However, around 45 minutes after the lecture started, agitating students reached the department, shouted slogans and the programme was disrupted, the officials said.

'Dasgupta could not complete the lecture due to protests by students. He is currently inside the Social Work department at Sriniketan along with the VC. The students were shouting slogans outside. We are trying to persuade them to allow them to leave,' Prof Sudipta Bhattacharyya, President of the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association, said.

Dasgupta, Visva-Bharati VC or its spokesperson Anirban Sarkar could not be contacted for their comments.

Earlier, after the journalist-turned politician reached the Santiniketan campus, students started protesting against him.

The varsity's SFI unit leader Somnath Sau said the students were opposed to allow anyone who 'promotes hatred among communities' to spread propaganda on the soil of Visva Bharati, which stands for the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore.

Visva Bharati, founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921, is now a central university.

'We will continue our protests against the BJP and forces of the Hindutva,' he added.

At that time, Dasgupta said in a tweet, 'How does it feel to have a mob attack a peaceful meeting on CAA and intimidation students? This is what is happening to a meeting I am addressing at Vishwa Bharati now. Locked into room now with mob outside (sic).' Vice-Chancellor Chakraborty then informed the agitating students that the lecture series was part of the academic exercise and there should not be any controversy, a senior professor said.

However, the students did not pay heed to it. PTI SUS SOM NN NN