Mamata Banerjee Announces Vice Chancellor's Resignation, Jadavpur University Students Celebrate

Mamata Banerjee Announces Vice Chancellor's Resignation, Jadavpur University Students Celebrate

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Jubilant students celebrate at Jadavpur University.

Kolkata:  Fifteen minutes after she arrived unexpectedly at the Jadavpur University campus, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gave the protesting students what they had been waiting for the last four months; news that Jadavpur University Vice Chancellor Avijit Chakrabarti was going to quit.

"I have spoken to the Vice Chancellor. He has told me he wants to resign," she told them.

Thunderous applause greeted Ms Banerjee's words. 15 students who had been on a hunger strike for the last eight days jumped to their feet and burst into shouts of "hok hok hok kolorob" (let there be commotion) -- their war cry since the night of September 16 when, reportedly on the vice chancellor's orders, the police manhandled protesting students.

The protests started after an incident of alleged molestation on campus on August 28.

A first year student, who had been allegedly molested by senior students, had complained to the vice chancellor. The vice chancellor had allegedly not taken action fast enough; he had sent some teachers to question the girl at home. Other students didn't take kindly to this; they felt the victim was being pressured.

On the night of September 16, they 'gheraoed' the vice chancellor, who called the police.

The police dragged the students out; they did not use lathis, but some students were injured in the tussle.

That night, the protesting students decided that they would not stop till the Vice Chancellor tendered his resignation.

"Today I feel I have won the world," said one student after the Chief Minister's announcement.

"It is a victory for us, victory for democracy," shouted another as they clapped their hands, stamped their feet and hugged each other.

For months, University Chancellor and Governor Mr Kesari Nath Tripathi, as well as Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, had backed the Vice Chancellor.

But something changed last week. On Friday, Mr Chatterjee called the Vice Chancellor, protesting teachers and fasting students for talks. On Saturday, the Governor issued a press release "cautioning" the Vice Chancellor over the delay in taking action in the molestation case.

Today, parents of University students and former students went on a 12-hour hunger-strike to demand the vice chancellor's resignation.

"She (Ms Banerjee) did not look happy when she made the announcement. But good she did it. Better late than never," said a student.

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