Tagore came to Bolpur from elsewhere to set up Visva Bharati: VC after CM Mamata Banerjee’s ‘outsider’ remark

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Updated: Aug 23, 2020 6:47 PM

Trouble had erupted at the central institute on Monday after thousands of locals ransacked its property and tore down the main gate to protest against the fencing work. Several people also vandalised the construction equipment on the Poush Mela ground.

Visva Bharati’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Bidyut Chakraborty (File Image: Indian Express)

 

Amid the ongoing row at Visva Bharati over Poush Mela ground fencing, Vice-Chancellor Prof Bidyut Chakraborty, who has often been accused of bringing in “outsiders” to defend his decisions, has said Rabindranath Tagore had also come to Bolpur from outside to set up the institute.

The VC’s “outsider” reference was apparently aimed at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who recently said, “outsiders were present during the construction of the boundary wall on Poush Mela ground, an action not in consonance with Tagore’s ideals of education in the lap of nature”.

The central university’s VC, in a statement on Saturday, also said that Bolpur was just a discrete little town in colonial Bengal and “it was Tagore and his colleagues from outside who helped set up Visva Bharati there, and consolidated the varsity as one of the most innovative pedagogical centres in the world”.

“Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was an outsider himself; had he not taken a liking to the area, Visva-Bharati wouldn’t have evolved. Besides Gurudev and his colleagues paved the way for Visva Bharati to develop as a hub of knowledge creation and dissemination,” he said.

“There is a sustained endeavour to alienate, exclude, and ostracise those colleagues who are from outside Bolpur or West Bengal by labelling them as outsiders who are not emotionally equipped to become true Rabindriks (Tagoreans.) History has shown that many of our colleagues who came from outside gradually became immersed in the cultural tradition that Visva-Bharati represents,” he said.

Chakraborty also said that the fairground, which was acquired by the central varsity 60 years ago, does not bear the heritage tag which has been conferred on the institute. He said allegations of impudence against its authorities were bereft of truth.

“The Poush Mela ground was not a part of the ashram founded by Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maharshi Devendranath Tagore; it does not have the heritage label. In India, the ‘heritage’ status is given only after a building or precinct has existed for more than 100 years. Poush Mela started here 20 years after Gurudev Tagore’s death, Chakraborty said.

A section of students and local people had said that the Poush Mela venue was an integral part of the varsity and charged the university authorities with insolence for its attempt to “block” the ground from the general public.
Pointing out that walls already exist on two sides of the ground, the VC further maintained that the southern and eastern periphery has remained unfenced.

The fencing work was to be undertaken “as per central government /UGC directives and CAG special security audit recommendations, Chakraborty stated. “We also have to comply with the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal’s orders on creating a barricaded and self-contained Mela venue, separated from the rest of the campus, particularly the academic and residential areas,” he reiterated.

Trouble had erupted at the central institute on Monday after thousands of locals ransacked its property and tore down the main gate to protest against the fencing work. Several people also vandalised the construction equipment on the Poush Mela ground.

Visva Bharati had on Tuesday demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident and deployment of central forces on the campus, while blaming a TMC MLA and some local ruling party leaders for the violence. The university also said it will remain closed until the perpetrators are brought to book.

Describing the August 17 campus violence as a case of “plain and simple, muscle-flexing at the behest of a select group of people, the VC said the incident does not go with the espoused traditions that Tagoreans proudly nurture.
“August 17, 2020, was a Red-Letter Day for all the hypocrites… Not only did the miscreants, encouraged and led by their political bosses, indulge in activities which are everything but true to the great legacy that Gurudev left for posterity, but they also, in just three hours, ravaged the physical structure of Gurudev’s pride and joy, his beloved Visva-Bharati,” he added.

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