After Row, VBU Terms Plaques As Temporary, Says UNESCO Texts To Feature In Permanent One

Visva Bharati Plaque Row: In the row over installation of plaques inside the Visva Bharati University (VBU) campus to mark the UNESCO World heritage Site status to Santiniketan , the university has said that the plaques were just a temporary structure to demarcate the heritage site. The row erupted after plaques were put in different parts of the university campus, after the announcement of Santiniketan’s inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. 

The plaques bore the names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is ex-officio Chancellor of the university, and Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, but they completely miss out on mentioning Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore who set up the varsity.

“UNESCO specifically said they are honouring Rabindranath Tagore and his unique legacy by declaring Santiniketan as a World Heritage Site. A megalomaniac V-C and his boss seem to think UNESCO is honouring them!!,” TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar was reported as saying by news agency PTI, in reaction to the plaque row. Some left-leaning students and activists have also objected to the move. 

“It was a purely temporary structure raised to demarcate the heritage site. The ISI and UNESCO will provide some text that will be erected once they are received,” Visva Bharati spokesperson Mahua Bandyopadhyay told PTI. A senior teacher from the university was further reported as saying that the plaques came up across the varsity campus following UNESCO’s World Heritage site honour to Santiniketan on September 17.

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After the plaques came up in the campus, the Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA), a teaching staff organisation of VBU sent emails to the Prime Minister and Chancellor Narendra Modi, President Droupadi Murmu, who is the Visitor, and West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose, terming it as an insult to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, by not mentioning him, and instead mentioning other names on the plaques. 

“This is to draw your kind attention to the fact that the Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty has put up several plaques on the heritage site at Santiniketan on which it is written ‘UNESCO Inscribed World Heritage Site’ under which the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Chancellor and the name of Bidyut Chakraborty as the Vice-Chancellor has been mentioned.

“… we are shocked and surprised to see that there is no mention of the name of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore who is the founder of Visva Bharati,” PTI reported the email as saying, which was also sent to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and West Bengal governor C V Ananda Bose. 

The email also demanded the resignation of the university VC. Earlier, West Bengal BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya, said, ““persons like Jawhar Sircar are flagging such issues on social media to cement their position in the party after being fielded as Rajya Sabha MP to unnecessarily stir controversy.” 

(With inputs from PTI)

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