West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was forced to leave the venue of the Calcutta University convocation on Tuesday without attending it following protests by students opposing CAA who raised slogans asking him to "go back" and called him a "stooge of the BJP". The demonstrators refused to let the convocation, where Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee was later handed over an honorary D.Litt degree, begin unless Dhankhar, the ex-officio Chancellor of the university, left the Nazrul Manch where a large number of educationists and other eminent persons had gathered.
As the students of different colleges forcibly entered the venue and started the demonstration, security personnel escorted Dhankhar to the green room nearby in view of the tense situation.
In the meantime, another group of students started demonstrating outside the venue, as Banerjee's car got stranded, before the security personnel escorted him inside.
"We demand the Governor go back. We won't allow him to attend this programme. He is a BJP stooge. We don't accept Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens," said a demonstrator carrying posters against the NRC and CAA. He identified himself as a student.
"We will go back as soon as the Governor leaves. Our only problem is with the Governor," said another demonstrator.
"BJP agent Governor lay your hands off Calcutta University," said a poster.
The students claimed they did not represent any party, though some of them were known faces of the Trinamool Congress Chhattra Parishad.
Varsity Vice-Chancellor Sonali Chakravarty Banerjee and other officials tried to repeatedly reason with the protesting students, urging them not to destroy the sanctity of such an occasion. However, they refused to relent, saying they won't allow him either to go to the stage or be a part of the convocation procession.
Finally Dhankhar left the venue, after signing the D.Litt (honoris causa) in the Nobel laureate's presence. With Dhankhar gone, the programme was held without any more hindrances.
Dhankhar later lashed out against the protesters in a series of tweets. "The actions of those who created or stage-managed unseemly spectacle would resonate for long in the ears of cultured people of WB.... Those who compromised culture and decorum need to be in reflective mode," he said.
In another tweet, the government explained that he left the venue without attending the convocation out of his immense respect for the Nobel laureate.
"The uppermost thought in mind while leaving Calcutta University without attending the Convocation is to ensure there is no compromise of the immense respect we have for Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee on whom we are conferring honorary D Litt (honoris causa)." He said.
Dhankhar said the Vice-Chancellor sought permission from him to proceed with the Convocation. "In view of the enormous respect I have for Abhijit Banerjee and mindful of the reputation of the iconic Calcutta University, I accorded the same."
Abhijit Banerjee, while delivering his address, commented on protests, saying it was "hard" for him to comprehend.
"What has happened here is a little bit hard for me to comprehend," he said.
Last month, Dhankhar could not attend the convocation of Jadavpur University following intense protests on the campus by a section of the non-teaching staff affiliated to the ruling Trinamool Congress. The protestors showed black flags and blocked his car railing against his comments supporting the new citizenship law CAA.