New Delhi: The Union HRD Ministry has written a letter to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) seeking permanent deployment of a contingent at the prestigious Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal. This is for the first time that a central government in the country has officially pitched in for permanent deployment of a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in an educational institution.

According to a report published in the Indian Express, last month, the ministry wrote a letter to Rajesh Ranjan, the CISF Director General (DG), requesting him to deploy a contingent at the Visva-Bharati, saying that the University would bear the cost of its deployment, through the grants that it receives from the government.

According to the report, the development took place after Bidyut Chakraborty, the Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor (V-C), requested CISF deployment at the campus, citing repeated incidents of confrontations between the administration on the one side, and students and staff on the other. In his letter to the ministry, the V-C alleged that the private security guards currently deployed at the varsity were loyal to their ‘local Trinamool Congress (TMC) bosses’ and hence disobeyed the university security officer ‘with impunity.’

He gave the example of the student protest in May when the students held a protest against the rise in the cost of application forms. Back then, the students held faculty members and staff ‘hostage,’ not allowing them to leave the campus. During the episode, the V-C alleged, the security guards remained silent and even ’emboldened’ the students to continue their agitation.

In September 2017, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) had made a similar request to the ministry which rejected the appeal.

The development comes amid a row over the deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. Students allege that the CRPF has been deployed there to intimidate them into calling off their ongoing protests against the hostel fee hike.