Photo: ANI
Photo: ANI

It began with a plan to build a wall. And while that might have worked to an extent for President Donald Trump, in West Bengal's Shantiniktan, it has led to protests and official statements and counter comments. Now, the university is seeking a CBI inquiry and intervention from chancellor Narendra Modi.

Here's all you need to know about the issue:

Where is this wall? Why is it being constructed?

In Birbhum district of West Bengal, the Visva Bharati University is trying to construct a wall on the grounds of the poush mela. For the first time in history, Visva Bharati University authorities had decided to cancel the event in July this year. Now, university authorities have decided to fence the area where the fair is held annually. This incidentally is not a small affair, with many tourists travelling to Shantiniketan with the sole intention of attending the three-day mela.

The decision to fence the area, which the university authorities have reportedly claimed is intended to keep out miscreants has been interpreted as some as an effort to control access to the event and the premises.

What has been the reaction by locals?

To protest the upcoming wall, locals had ransacked the construction site and even bulldozed one of the University's gates. According to The Free Press Journal's Prema Rajaram, angry locals attacked the iron gates with bricks and even brought along a JCB machine to help in their demotion efforts. Videos of the same have surfaced, and there are allegations that MLA Naresh Bauri was part of the mob.

What has been the reaction of the Trinamool Congress and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee?

Reports suggest that Banerjee is not happy with the situation. In remarks made on Monday she had said that she was not in favour of any construction that would "tarnish the image or nature".

"I found out that some construction work was going on and some outsiders were present during construction. Students and people and locals did not like it they protested. When I heard, I asked police to ask DM (district magistrate) to have a meeting to settle it. I don’t want any constructions there which will destroy nature,” she had said.

What has the University's Rector (Governor Jagdeep Dhankar) and Chancellor (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) said?

Moments after the incident the state's Governor had tweeted that the situation was "alarming". In a follow-up post after talking to the Chief Minister, he said that he was certain that those entrusted with ensuring law and order in the area would "rise to the occasion".

There have been no comments from Prime Minister Modi. However, it must be mentioned that reports indicate that the University intends to write to the Prime Minister.

What has been the reaction of the University?

Following the clashes, Visva Bharati University has been closed. On Tuesday, University authorities said that they had decided to seek Prime Minister Modi's intervention for deployment of central security forces on its premises.

According to our correspondent, the University is also seeking a CBI inquiry into the vandalism on the premises.

(With inputs from agencies)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal