Attack on Visva Bharati is Attack on the Soul of Bengal

    19-Aug-2020
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Debjani Bhattacharyya 
 
Vishva Bharati University at Shantiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore was declared closed for an indefinite period on August 17 as law n order situation there went completely out of control. Governor of West Bengal expressed grave concern about it first at 12.42 pm on August 17 & advised CM to intervene. Governor's tweet also indicated that Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, District Magistrate & Superintendent of Police went uncontactable by Vishva Bharati at the moment of crying crisis.
 
As per instructions of National Green Tribunal, Poush Mela ground adjacent to University campus was being fenced around by the University Authority. Hooligans attacked reportedly to break down the ground fencing. However, they bulldozed & uprooted not only the ground wall but even Gate No 6 of Vishva Bharati campus. Ruling party dispensation claimed such hooliganism to be a spontaneous public outrage against fencing of the University Ground. However, it is unclear why was the Gate demolished.
 
West Bengal CM stated that people of Shantiniketan were emotionally attached to Tagore’s Vishva Bharati & they couldn’t admit fencing of the Ground. She said Tagore wanted an open ground & so wanted the people of Shantiniketan. Even then, the need to bulldoze Gate No 6 remained unclear. It appeared symbolic as if they wanted to demolish Shantiniketan's cultural ethos & the marks of Tagore. Not only Gate No 6, did they attack the soul of Bengal? Is it likely that people emotionally linked to Tagore’s legacy would be able to demolish Vishva Bharati’s heritage Gate so cruelly?
 
The ground was being fenced by the order of National Green Tribunal as the campus-adjacent open ground was allegedly hampering campus-security as it facilitated free & smooth encroachment of outsiders inside the campus. Anti-social activities on the ground went on as a regular phenomenon. National Green Tribunal, hence, ordered fencing of the open ground as a protective solution against all such crimes. Was a protest thereof necessary? Even though a protest erupted, who bulldozed the Gate & why?
 
As per the claims of the ruling party, if the local people of Shantiniketan came to demolish the wall around the ground, why did they demolish the Gate? If they truly had attachment to Tagore’s tradition, how could they bulldoze the pre-existing heritage Gate? It’s also irrational that the Gate was ruined by instructions of the University Authority. As the responsibility of University Properties' maintenance vests upon the Authority itself, any damages thereof would automatically hold them accountable. Hence, it’s unlikely that the University Authority would instruct demolition of the Gate for which they themselves would be held accountable. Doubts, therefore, are in the air that goons demolished the Gate to put the Vice Chancellor into trouble as Vishva Bharati VC took sincere initiative to fence the ground as per NGT instructions. It seems that fencing the ground would pose some serious challenges to the local network of rogue anti-social elements.
 
West Bengal CM stated that to carry on with Tagore’s legacy, Bhuban Dangar Math i.e. the University Ground needed to remain open & unfenced. She expressed dissatisfaction about the ground being fenced by the Vice-Chancellor. However, whether Tagore himself would have objected against such fencing under similar situation, remains a question. Would Tagore have gone against the instruction of NGT? Though Tagore wanted an open ground at Vishva Bharati, did he imagine unrestricted presence of anti-social elements there? Perhaps not.
 
The incident didn’t conclude itself at this level. Head of the Department of Journalism, Vishva Bharati University, Biplab Loho Choudhury wrote to the Registrar of Vishva Bharati University that a group of motorbikers attacked his house at Simantapally. They opened the gate, broke window glasses of his house & hurled abuses for supporting the cause of fencing Poushmela ground. Loho Choudhury expressed his utter astonishment to the Registrar that the hooligans who attacked his house was verbatim aware of whatever he stated & suggested in the close-door official meeting of Vishva Bharati. Loho Choudhury also expressed that he was writing to the Registrar being instructed by the Vice-Chancellor to do so.
 
Professor Loho Choudhury's letter to the Registrar exposed that even inside the University core committee, there existed ‘moles’ of those hooligans who kept them verbatim informed about whatever happened inside the official meeting. This further means that Tagore’s dream University, these days, are controlled by goons. Could there be any further deterioration of West Bengal?
 
Vishva Bharati in there Press Release has made people's representative MLA Shri Naresh Bauri and two administrators of the Municipality (Shri Sukanta Hazra and Omor Sekh) appointed by the State Government along with many others RESPONSIBLE for hooliganism in the campus of Visva-Bharati on 17 August, 2020 between 9-30 am and 12-30 pm. The University has also condemned police inaction despite having intimated well in advance the DM and SP of Birbhum, Chief Secretary, Home Secretary of the State of West Bengal and Sri Gautam Sanyal, the Personal Secretary to WB CM.
 
The University also declared that till the TMC miscreants were booked & till all within the campus felt safe n secured against the ruling party vandals, Vishva Bharati would remain closed. In this regard, selective brutal attack on Prof. Biplab Loho Choudhury of CJMC was condemned & demand was raised for police to book the perpetrators.
 
University Authority also wanted false FIRs slapped on the Vice-Chancellor and other university officials to be withdrawn for ensuring a fearless environment within the campus as academic pursuits couldn’t go on in an environment of fear & intimidation. They decided to observe a 12 hours long fast as a mark of protest against the vandalism that the miscreants had committed on 17 August, 2020 in the campus.
 
 
Moreover, after all vandalism & miscreations, construction materials like Cement etc had reportedly been stolen from the site. People had been found to carry Cement bags away in electric rickshaws.
 
All these prove that Tagore’s own State has failed his dream.
 
“Where the mind is without fear
 and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free” sounds sarcastic in the present scenario. West Bengal is unsure of her future.