Kolkata: Hours after Calcutta University issued a notification banning rallies and protests, inside all its seven campuses in Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged student communities to use social media for voicing their protest.
“Student communities must use social media to protest against divisive and religious politics. We all love Jadavpur University. It is our pride. We want JU to prosper and this is above party interests,” Mamata said.
Meanwhile, opposition leaders criticized the move and termed it a gag order.
BJP state secretary Sayantan Basu said, “She is asking students to unite against religious politics. She is instigating the students. This is a deliberate attempt to gag opposition’s protest against the state government. This is a political move because the state government doesn’t want our student unions to raise their voice for justice.”
Earlier on Friday, the interim vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University Ashutosh Ghosh issued notification banning political rallies and meetings inside college campuses.
“From now onwards, no one will allowed to organize protest rallies and political meetings inside college campuses during class hours,” the notification reads.
Two days ago, Banerjee banned political rallies and protests at College Square, close to University campus, citing reasons that research scholars were facing problems.
“There should not be any political meetings and rallies in College Square. I also do it, but only twice a year. We have a fixed date but others political parties are doing it almost anytime.
People raise slogans on microphones and under such circumstances how can students study? Today, I promise you all that we will not conduct any political meetings and rallies in College Square,” she had said in an administrative meeting at Chinsurah of Hooghly district.
The College Square is located at College Street — famous for century old book shops and Coffee house. It is a part of Kolkata’s heritage and there are several educational institutes in the vicinity, including Presidency University.
For more than 200 years this place has witnessed several student movements. In 1820s, Henry Derozio — Indian educator who spoke against western learnings — kicked off a student movement from this place. His movement led to Young Bengal Movement in Bengal and his students were popularly known as Derozians.
Leaders and reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Debendranath Tagore, Anandamohan Bose and Surendranath Bandyopadhyay either launched or intensified their movements here.
College Square is not used to silence and it remains to be seen how opposition reacts to Mamata’s orders.