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Protests at West Bengal Varsities Demanding Online Exams

Demonstrations were held by students in different universities across West Bengal on Tuesday, demanding online examinations. At Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, the demonstrations turned violent as some students kicked the door of the vice-chancellor’s office and manhandled a non-teaching staff amid a gherao that went on for hours, prompting the authorities to call in the police.

The students, who were demonstrating at the state-run varsity’s BT Road campus, claimed that as the syllabus could not be completed in online classes, they should be allowed to write the papers from home and not forced to appear for the examinations in the classroom. “There is no possibility to hold the exams online, giving in to the demands of students,” vice-chancellor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury said.

As some students have claimed that they could not complete the syllabus, there can be discussions on that, he added. A senior faculty member of the varsity said, “A student who would not get more than 40 in a 100-mark paper if exams were held offline, has got 78 in an online exam. Obviously, some students don’t want to sit for offline exams.” He said the faculty and the non-teaching staff would not bow down to the “unjust demands” of some students.

“Our studies were affected as classes were held online for two years. If previous semester exams could be held online, why not now?” Sagnik Banerjee, an agitating undergraduate student, said. Demonstrations were also held at the Aliah University’s Park Circus campus, Burdwan University and North Bengal University, demanding online examinations.

Noted educationist Pabitra Sarkar said, “Online exams are nothing but a farce. There was no alternative due to the pandemic in the last two years. If the students are serious about their studies, they should give up this unjustified demand and sit for offline tests.” Linguist Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said, “If the students can come to the campus to demonstrate, why cannot they write the papers in exam centres?”.

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