Bringing the curtains down on the four-month-long unrest at Jadavpur University, Vice-Chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti on Monday agreed to step down from the post following the intervention of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"I spoke to the VC and he informed me that an unrest is going on and he doesn't want the academic atmosphere to get vitiated further. He wants peace and so he is resigning," Banerjee announced this after an unscheduled meeting with the agitating students at the university campus.
The prolonged agitation reached its height when 13 students of the university started a hunger strike on January 5 with a five-point charter of demands including the resignation of the VC whom they held responsible for the police crackdown on them during a gherao on September 17.
At lease three of the students on hunger strike are now in hospital.
During the agitation the students boycotted classes, brought out rallies, put up posters and even held a referendum in which they voted overwhelmingly against the VC.
"I took an initiative myself. Classes were not going on for four months. An agitation was on. Considering the future of the students and those who were on strike, I took this initiative," the chief minister said.
As soon as she made the announcement of the VC's willingness to step down, the students greeted it with a thunderous applause, congratulating each other. "Credit is not mine, credit goes to the students," she said while praising that they are proud of the university and its talented students.
The students had gheraoed the VC, registrar and others on the intervening night of September 16 and 17 demanding a fresh probe panel to investigate the alleged sexual harassment of a girl student on the campus on August 28.
The VC had said he feared for his life and called the police who intervened to break the gherao and arrested 35 students. Many of the students alleged that they were brutally beaten up by the police inside the campus at night.
"In politics there can be difference between two persons. I also come from student politics and I respect student agitation. I myself had participated in a 26-day fast. Some of the students have fallen ill. No one told me to come here. My own heart called me here. I had been happy had you told me that 'Didi' we want to talk to you," Banerjee said.
Geetoshree Sarkar, who had refused to accept the gold medal at the recent convocation as a means of protest, said the victory was theirs after four months of wait. "He had no moral right to stay in office and there was no way we would have accepted him in the post," she said.
The students had consistently rejected all appeals from the VC, chancellor and state education minister Partha Chatterjee to withdraw their hunger strike.