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Work on to make new plaque under ASI norms: Visva-Bharati VC tells Bengal CM

Kolkata: Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor on Sunday said work was under way to ‘prepare’ a plaque retaining UNESCO’s declaration of Santiniketan as a world heritage site and in adherence to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) guidelines.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday urged the Centre to remove the plaques on UNESCO World Heritage Site status to Santiniketan for not bearing the name of Visva-Bharati founder Rabindranath Tagore.

In a letter to Banerjee, vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty called upon her “not to continue to form your opinion on the basis of what your sycophants convey.”

“I wonder whether you are perturbed that in the plaque, Rabindranath does not figure…I just would like to draw your attention to our difficulties,” Chakraborty said.

Urging Banerjee to ‘please apply your mind,’ the VC said, “UNESCO declared Santiniketan as a World Heritage Site and we need to follow the ASI instructions while preparing the plaque and we are doing it, the result of which will soon be visible.”

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been involved in the restoration of several structures in Santiniketan, preserving its historical and cultural heritage.

On October 26, the TMC supremo had criticised the varsity authorities for not inscribing Tagore’s name in the plaques and warned of demonstrations in Santiniketan if those were not replaced by Friday morning.

On October 27, the TMC launched a demonstration outside Visva-Bharati university as the plaques were not removed.

The demonstrations continued till Sunday with TMC MLA and minister Chandranath Sinha, Nalhati MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh and other leaders remaining at the site for the past three days.

On the demand of handing over the road passing through Visva-Bharati heritage structures by state PWD to the central university, he said though two letters were addressed to Banerjee in the third week of September, “I was confident that the road was to be returned to Visva-Bharati given your steadfast commitment to carry forward the Rabindrik (Tagorean) traditions but unfortunately, you appear to be indifferent to our request.”

“Visva-Bharati is our pride and let’s come together to protect this globally reputed centre of learning. Let’s protect Santiniketan as a World Heritage as you have taken ample care in sustaining the Heritage tag of Durga Pujo (in the intangible category of World Heritage). Please help us safeguard Santiniketan (recognized in the tangible category of World Heritage) and you have the capability to bring all of us together,” he said.

Chakraborty also referred to the incarceration of two TMC ministers, party leaders and a former VC of a state university in connection with different corruption charges.

“Two of your senior ministers are in custody, some of your trusted aides are in jail. Your government-appointed vice-chancellor is also incarcerated with alleged charge of misappropriation of money.”

“Your most vocal member of Parliament is being charged with activities which have already drawn the parliamentary ethics committee to examine the issue,” he said while referring to the Mahua Moitra case.

Santiniketan in Birbhum district was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List on September 17.

Plaques set up at several places on the sprawling Santiniketan campus of the central university bore the names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is ex-officio Chancellor of the university, and VC Bidyut Chakrabarty.

“This insults Tagore and belittles the anti-colonial heritage-creating efforts of our nation’s founding fathers. The central government will be well advised to remove this narcissistic display of arrogant self-exhibitionism forthwith and to give Gurudev the tribute that the country owes to him,” the TMC supremo had earlier said.

(Published 29 October 2023, 16:36 IST)

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