Faction feud forces goddess off campus

Gour Banga University today did not allow a Saraswati Puja on the campus fearing that trouble between two Trinamul-backed factions of a students' union could spiral out of control.

Both the factions of Trinamul Chhatra Praishad wanted to hold the puja on campus but they shifted their pandals to the main gate after the police intervened.

Vice-chancellor Gopalchandra Misra said the decision was taken as the authorities feared trouble as the campus had seen the two groups clash on December 5 last year.

The varsity has no elected students' body at present.

Leaders of both the factions protested the decision of the authorities.

According to varsity sources, around 9am, Prasenjit Das, the district president of the student's body, arrived with his followers on campus. They were carrying a prefabricated bamboo pandal to house the Saraswati idol.

"About an hour later, Amlan Bhaduri, the district president of the Trinamul Youth Congress, came and demanded that their puja should be held on the premises," a university source said.

"The varsity authorities turned to the Englishbazar police. The inspector in charge of Englishbazar police station, Purnendu Kundu, arrived with a large number of policemen around noon. The two groups were told by the officer that the varsity had decided that no one would be permitted to hold Saraswati Puja (on campus). The groups moved out around 1pm and held the puja outside the main gate," the source said.

A police picket has been posted outside the campus.

Initially the students wanted to hold the puja just outside the gate but the Englishbazar municipality did not give them permission. "We had approached the municipality for permission to hold the puja but they did not grant it, saying that there would be traffic congestion and a hindrance to pedestrians. It is surprising that Saraswati Puja could not be held in university this year," Das said.

Bhaduri said he found the university's decision "unthinkable".

"It is a shame that students were told to leave the campus even though they were eager to hold a puja. The students were forced to hold the puja on the roadside," he said.

But the vice-chancellor was firm in his decision. "We had no other option in order to avoid trouble," Misra said.



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