Utkal VC sits on fast for peace in campus

The state govt is likely to seek a report from Utkal University VC on his 12-hour-long dharna in front of his own office here

Bhubaneswar: In a desperate attempt to bring back peace and academic atmosphere on the Utkal University campus, Vice Chancellor Soumendra Mohan Patnaik sat on a 12-hour dharna in front of his office here Tuesday.

The dharna, which he called ‘Introspective silent fasting’, began at 8am and continued till 8pm Tuesday, said sources.

“We took the step (fast) to shun violence on the campus. The decision over holding students’ union poll will be taken by the PG (Post-Graduate) Council,” the VC said.

Extending support to the VC, some senior professors and lecturers also joined him in the dharna. Patnaik has appealed to the student community to uphold peace and tranquility in the larger interests of the university and its students.

The move came a day after a group of students gheraoed the VC office demanding conduct of students’ union polls, which were cancelled September 18 following a series of violent incidents.

The premier educational institution of the state, which had been closed sine die September 18 following pre-poll violence on the campus, reopened Monday.

Meanwhile, the state government is likely to seek a report from Utkal University VC on his 12-hour-long dharna in front of his own office here.

Informing about this, Higher Education Minister Ananta Das said he had no information about Patnaik’s dharna. But a report on the reason behind his dharna will be sought from the Vice-Chancellor and action will be taken, if needed. Every University of the state is under the state government as per the Odisha University Act, the minister pointed out.

Commenting on the students’ demand for students’ union election, the minister said that it is too early to say whether elections will be conducted in the varsity this year.

Patnaik, possibly the first-ever VC to sit on dharna in Orissa, took the step after tension erupted in the university Monday. Some students had gheraoed him demanding election, which had been cancelled and sine die declared on September 18 after recurring violence on the campus.

The University reopened Monday after authorities lifted the sine die Sunday.

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