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CNLU students win retired judge as interim VC, stand down for 2 days • Ex-VC keeps self locked away in residence

First small victory for CNLU students
First small victory for CNLU students

CNLU Patna students won a first small concession today in their fight opposing the appointment of NUJS Kolkata vice chancellor Prof Ishwara Bhat to head up their institution, suspending their protests for two days, according to two student sources.

With CNLU vice chancellor A Lakshminath’s term having expired yesterday (19 March), CNLU has now appointed retired Patna high court judge, Justice Mridula Mishra, to be the institution’s interim vice chancellor “to look after the day-to-day work of the University” until further notice, according to the notification dated 20 March.

The initial plan had been to extend Lakshminath's term for another month, according to students, but their opposition to his extension as well as to his replacement, Bhat, both of whom have been unpopular with students.

A delegation of CNLU students met the university's chancellor, the Patna high court chief justice Rajendra Menon, today, with one student telling us: “He sympathetically entertained the grievances of the students of CNLU and affirmatively assured that an inquiry commission would be constituted within a span of two days to investigate the charges levied by the CNLU students against the administrative mismanagement.

“Meanwhile on assurances so given, the CNLU students show cooperation with the chancellor and have decided to stand off the protest for two days.”

While some oral assurances had reportedly been made to students by the registrar that Bhat would not be appointed to CNLU before the inquiry committee's report was made public (as it had been alleged that the unfavourable report had been buried by the Bhat administration), one student told us they would not back down until they received such an assurance in writing.

Instead, students claimed that Lakshminath had allegedly had himself locked into his residence since the protests started on Saturday, refusing to engage with students, with security guards telling students that the outgoing VC was not on the premises.

We have reached out to Lakshminath for comment by phone, but have received no response.

“Everywhere the kids are sitting down, everybody is sitting in scorching heat, while they're [the administration is] sitting inside, and not even talking to us,“ one student told us today from the protest.

However, in the afternoon today Lakshminath emerged and also went to see the chancellor with the registrar, with an appointment after the students. We understand that he has now returned to his campus residence, with the doors locked again.

However, he has still not talked to students.

Update 23:28: A press statement from protesting students below

Press statement from protesting students
Press statement from protesting students

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