Yesterday, November 8, the people of Kabiguru Handicraft Market orchestrated a unique farewell for the former Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Biddyut Chakraborty, of Visva-Bharati University (VBU) in Shantiniketan. A symbolic procession, resembling a funeral procession, featured a lookalike of Prof Chakraborty, shrouded in white, being carried on a stretcher through the streets of Bolpur while chanting ‘Harinam’, as telecasted by various local channels. This event marked the conclusion of the ex-VC’s tumultuous tenure at VBU, which had been mired in controversies since his appointment in 2018.
Prof Chakraborty’s term concluded on Wednesday, November 8, and in his stead, Prof Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, a senior professor in the Department of Art at Kala Bhavana, assumed the role of the acting VC. The university released a notification yesterday, stating, “Prof Sanjoy Kumar Mallik, Adhyaksha (Principal), Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, shall perform the duties of the Upacharya (Vice-
Accompanied by ‘Kirtan’ and the beats of the ‘Khol,’ the funeral procession concluded in front of the VBU Central Office. Subsequently, a symbolic cremation of the ex-VC took place at Lalbandh. Additionally, many professors celebrated the news of the end of the VC’s tenure by distributing sweets in front of the central office.
To recall, Prof Chakraborty’s time in office was marked by numerous conflicts with both staff and students, leading to a surge in suspension orders and legal cases, with VBU now entangled in over 100 legal disputes involving staff, employees, and students. Accusations against him include wielding his position and power for personal vendettas and attempting to saffronise the campus.
As a central university, VBU falls directly under the Central Government, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi serving as the Chancellor. Allegations persisted that Prof Chakraborty aimed to influence the campus in alignment with the central government’s agenda. Consequently, the news of the end of Chakraborty’s tenure brought relief to the people of Bolpur and VBU employees, who were observed celebrating the development.