Kolkata: For 24 hours and more, students of Kolkata's Jadavpur University have gheraoed the vice chancellor demanding he join their fight against the state's decision to ban politics on campuses.
The West Bengal Universities & Colleges (Administration & Regulation) Act passed in February and a notification in June say no more political students' unions, only apolitical councils.
The model is Kolkata's best known Jesuit college and St Xavier's, which chief minister Mamata Banerjee has approved.
But students of Jadavpur University or JU want 'azadi'. Students say that is completely undemocratic. Mamata Banerjee, they say, may like the Xavier's model but JU will have none of it.
"Even St Xaviers students don't like their model. The JU model is highly democratic, students take their own decisions," said Aritro, who has been at the forefront of the protests.
A fellow student, Sumita, said, "It is curbing our democratic rights...we can't speak out".
Students wanted the vice chancellor to intervene on the matter. He agreed. The varsity's Executive Council drafted a letter to the government but refused to include two words the students' wanted to describe the ban on unions: "undemocratic and unacceptable".
"This decision to move from unions to councils was the result of an act passed in assembly... to which the governor gave assent," said Dr Suranjan Das, the vice chancellor. "But in a democracy, a citizen can voice protest against an Act...but there is a forum, a process of doing that," he said.
Worse, last night, some unparliamentary graffiti was painted on the walls of the corridor leading to the vice chancellor's office. "Is this the language of a students' movement? You should show the graffiti on TV so parents can also see," fumed Dr Das.
Students said they had not put up the objectionable words and erased them.
The Education Minister, Mr Partha Chatterjee, also maintained the law will not be changed under any pleasure.
Elections will be held every two years for class representatives. 60 per cent attendance to vote or contest. The principal will nominate the students council president. Teachers will be part of the council.
Jadavpur students have spoken. But will the state listen? Not if JU walks alone.