Assam University postpones convocation

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SILCHAR, Feb 18 (AGENCIES): The convocation of Assam University has been postponed even as the indefinite hunger strike by students against the rustication of a research scholar entered ninth day on Tuesday.

AU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dilip Chandra Nath said the scheduled convocation of the varsity on March 1 has been postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing agitation.

“The office of the Assam University has become functionless due to the agitation. So, no preparation work for the convocation could be done,” he said.

The students are on hunger strike since February 10 with a host of demands, including withdrawal of rustication order against Milan Das, withdrawal of FIR against him and assurance of no action against the agitating students.

With the students sitting in front of the main gate and not allowing anyone to enter the campus, the functioning of the varsity has come to a standstill.

This forced the varsity administration to hold the university Executive Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the prevailing situation outside the campus at Radhamadhab College.

The Assam University Students’ Union (AUSU) president Biswarup Bhattacharjee and general secretary Aritra Babai Dhar asserted that they will not withdraw the agitation until their demands are fulfilled.

Bhattacharjee claimed that nine of their striking students have been admitted in hospital after falling ill and “the university authority has not approached us yet for talks”.

A tripartite meeting between district administration, university authority and students’ union on Monday failed to end the impasse.

Das, a research scholar of Ecology and Environmental Sciences department, was rusticated on February 8 for two years and barred him from entering the campus on seven counts, including causing threats to government servants, creating hindrance to office work, damaging varsity properties andinsulting the VC.

The university administration also lodged an FIR against him on the same charges. Das is the president of the Assam University Research Scholars’ Forum and the former president of AUSU.

The agitating students claimed that the authorities did not issue any show-cause notice to Das before rusticating him.

They also alleged that the authority took action against Das because of his active involvement in various agitational programmes against irregularities in the campus.

A senior university official said the executive council is ready to examine the matter provided an application is made by the research scholar requesting a review of the order and an apology while assuring not to repeat such acts in future. However, the students have rejected this and said Das can only pray for cancellation of the rustication order.

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