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Resisting violence

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TIME FOR CHANGE: With new measures, will such campus violence be a thing of the past?

Aiming to prevent aggression during student elections, the All Bengal College Principals' Council has suggested holding union elections across the state on the same date. The idea has been ratified by the West Bengal Higher Education Council. "Tension runs high on election day. If elections in all colleges across the state are held on the same date, students will be engaged in their respective institutions, thus creating less trouble, " says Sujit Kumar Daf, New Alipore College principal and secretary of the All Bengal Principals' Council.

The process has begun in different districts. "In Bankura and Burdwan, colleges have decided to hold their elections on the same date. In the city, that is currently impossible. However, we have asked the higher education department whether colleges in certain localities can hold elections simultaneously, " states Daf. The association is also urging colleges not to hold events, fests or cultural evenings under the banner of any political party. "Alongside, we are asking for a uniform code of conduct during college elections, " Daf says.

Elections in 27 colleges in Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas may be held simultaneously on December 29, with the district administration mobilising a large force and imposing Section 144 of CrPC to prevent clashes. "After recent violence, a meeting regarding upcoming elections was held with the authorities and Barrackpore colleges. It's been decided to hold elections in all colleges together, " a senior official said.

The higher education council recently discussed campus violence as taking a toll on students and disrupting an environment of learning and study. Chairman of West Bengal Higher Education Council Subimal Sen met with vice-chancellors of all state universities. Sen says, "A draft of the constitution governing union elections has been prepared. Some universities have accepted the guidelines, some haven't. Considering the situation, we have requested VCs of the universities which have not accepted the draft constitution to implement similar rules. " Sen discussed the dynamics of each district attempting to hold union elections on the same date. "That applies to Kolkata colleges as well, " Sen states. It is hoped that such measures will effectively break the cycle of violence apparently spinning out of control on Bengal's campuses.

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