BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta, Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and others were confined for six hours in a building of the Visva Bharati in West Bengal on Wednesday as hundreds of Left-leaning students staged a sit-in outside accusing the politician of promoting hatred among communities.
The two could finally leave the central university campus at Bolpur in Birbhum district after the students withdrew the sit-in around 10 pm, university sources said.
Dasgupta was invited 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 CPI(M) students' wing Students Federation of India (SFI), the venue was shifted to another auditorium of the 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, officials said.
"Drama ends in Vishwa Bharati without the confrontation that some protesters desperately wanted," Dasgupta posted on his Twitter handle shortly after the agitating students dispersed.
Prof. Sudipta Bhattacharyya, the president of the Visva Bharati University Faculty Association, told PTI that both activists of the SFI and a Naxalite students' organisation dispersed from the place where they had been agitating since 4 pm.
"VC Prof Bidyut Chakraborty and Swapan Dasgupta left the building where they were confined due to the sit-in by the students at 10 pm. We are happy that the situation did not turn for worse," Bhattacharya said.
Earlier, the professor had 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."
In the evening, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and 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 law.
"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 had posted earlier on Twitter.
Vijayvargiya warned the ruling TMC that if anything happened 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," the BJP general secretary 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," he said in the video that was also retweeted by Dasgupta.
Dhankhar said the incident was 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," he said.
"It is of serious concern that Governance is taking a back seat. Time to take a serious look at this," the governor tweeted.
The Visva Bharati vice chancellor or its spokesperson Anirban Sarkar could not be contacted for their comments.
When Dasgupta reached the Santiniketan campus earlier in the day, students started protesting against him.
The varsity''s SFI unit leader Somnath Sau said: "We withdrew the sit-in after talking to our teachers at 9 pm. However, members of a Naxalite student wing refused to budge from the spot. To my knowledge the Naxalite students also withdrew the stir an hour later."
The Left 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 Tagore in 1921, is now a central university.
"We will continue our protests against the BJP and forces of the Hindutva," the SFI leader 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."
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.