Sorry state of affairs, say Presidency alumni

Kolkata, April 11 (IANS) Expressing shock and dismay over the attack on Presidency University and its historic Baker Building Wednesday by Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) activists, alumni Thursday said it was a “sorry state of affairs”.

Armed with sticks and rods, TMCP members stormed the Presidency University campus here Wednesday. They beat up students and vandalised its famous physics department.

The heritage building celebrated its centenary recently.

The ransacking of the prestigious laboratory housed in the building, where eminent scientists like Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha did their path-breaking research, has left the science fraternity shocked.

“It is a sorry state of affairs. We have got affectionate memories of the Baker Building. It is shocking,” director of Bose Institute Sibaji Raha told IANS.

Bose Institute was founded in 1917 by Jagadish Chandra Bose who carried out his pioneering research on microwaves at the physics department here.

In 1913, under the leadership of Bose, the physics department moved to the Baker Laboratory, with its majestic Peake Library.

In the second half of the 20th century, Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri’s seminal work on general relativity attracted the world’s attention to the department.

During this period, the department produced some of India’s best physicists, including Bikash Sinha, Ashoke Sen and Sabyasachi Bhattacharya.

Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, pro-vice chancellor of the Calcutta University and an alumni of Presidency’s chemistry department, said: “I get nostalgic at the mention of Baker’s lab. We had classes there. It is shocking what happened at the university campus and our lab.”

The vandalism took place a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee faced a noisy protest in New Delhi organised by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Banerjee, Finance Minister Amit Mitra and others were heckled by members of the SFI outside the Planning Commission office in New Delhi Tuesday.

The SFI activists were protesting the death of their leader Sudipta Gupta in Kolkata Police’s custody on April 2.

“The incident in Presidency University is very unfortunate and sad. This politics is of the lowest grade and such politics is not in the interest of people,” eminent writer and Ramon Magsaysay award winner Mahasweta Devi told reporters Thursday.

Presidency University has its roots in the Hindu College, which was established in 1817. It was christened Presidency College in 1855.

The previous Left Front government in the state upgraded it as a university in 2010. Its alumni include Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Marxist leader Jyoti Basu and India’s first president Rajendra Prasad.

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