The gherao of Jadavpur University Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das and other executive committee members has been continuing for over 24 hours now, as a section of a students' union protest against the varsity's move to scrap admission tests for six humanities subjects.
The university on Wednesday announced that it would admit undergraduate students in English, Comparative Literature, Bengali, History, Political Science and Philosophy only on the basis of board marks, reversing its last week's decision to hold entrance tests.
The move led to fresh turmoil in the varsity, with members of the Arts Faculty Students' Union (AFSU) staging a sit-in before the offices of Das and other executive panel officials since 6 pm on Wednesday.
Criticising the executive council's decision, a spokesman of Jadavpur University Teachers' Association (JUTA) told PTI that it will observe ceasework on Friday, as well as a three-hour sit-in.
Explaining the reason behind the ceasework, the JUTA spokesman said admitting students based on their marks may "lower the academic standard" of the JU arts faculty.
"We will have to admit candidates without proper evaluation of their writing abilities. This is a departure from the JU's time-tested procedure," he said.
The vice-chancellor said he failed to understand the reason behind the students' protest.
"We have been confined in our offices for over 24 hours by a handful of students, who fail to understand that the decision to scrap the entrance test was taken by majority of the executive council members. I, as the VC, will have to abide by the decision," Das told PTI.
The agitation, he said, is taking a toll on his health.
"While talking about democratic movement, the students are infringing on our freedom to spend time with family. The gherao is affecting my health, as I am unable to follow certain guidelines by my doctor. Yesterday, they stopped me twice from leaving the campus," the VC said.
Das, however, asserted that he would not seek police help to disperse the students.
"I will never call the police. Instead, I will wait for them to see reason in this whole agitation. Why can't they move court instead of gheraoing us?" he said.
Somasree Chowdhury, the chairperson of AFSU, said the JU administration had been "frequently changing its stand" on matters of admission.
"They (JU authorities) are toying with the future of 17,000 candidates who have filled up forms for admission to different streams. There is no way we can accept this. We will continue our sit-in till the university restores the previous procedure of holding entrance tests," she said.
The executive council's decision was prompted by the views expressed by West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, to have "uniform admission system" in all state-run universities, Chowdhury alleged.
Chatterjee had said last November that the university should admit students on the basis of marks obtained in board exams.
JU Registrar Chiranjib Bhattacharya, after announcing the decision to scrap entrance tests, told reporters yesterday that the council's move comes in the wake of "displeasure" among a section of teachers over its previous decision to involve external experts in the admission procedure.
"There was little possibility of conducting entrance tests after addressing the concerns of our teachers, given the little time we have in hand," Pro-VC Pradip Ghosh said.
"In view of the uncertainties faced by thousands of candidates, we decided to go by the marks criterion for this year," Ghosh added.
The English Department has also decided to join in the protest, and said none of the teachers will take part in the admission procedure.
Meanwhile, in a notification, the JU announced new admission dates to humanities streams on July 27, 28, 30 and 31.