Friday, 5 December 2003  
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J'pura Varsity students and teachers align against VC

by Ranga Jayasuriya

Sri Jayawardenapura University lecturers supporting a fellow don on a death fast and a mass of undergraduates continued to remain at the university premises yesterday for the second day defying a senate order to vacate the university premises.

Another group of lecturers numbering around 50 sat with Dr. A. A. Karunaratne who is on the death fast in an act which they claim was a display of solidarity. Inter-University Students Federation president Ravindra Mudalige told the Daily News that the undergraduates were solidly behind the lecturers' action.

The lecturers and students held a joint protest against Vice-Chancellor Dr. D. S. Epitawatte yesterday afternoon.

The Jayawardenapura University Teachers' Association meeting in a special session yesterday announced that it would continue to support Dr. Karunaratne "till the root causes for his protest are addressed".

Dr. Karunaratne is fasting unto death demanding the removal of Vice-Chancellor Dr. Epitawatte and the withdrawal of a charge sheet brought against the former.

The lecturers condemned the conduct of the vice-chancellor during the crisis and decided to boycott the Senate, which is the supreme decision making body at the University.

Meanwhile, the University Senate yesterday ordered the lecturers and undergraduates to vacate the university premises before 8 am today.

The protesting lecturers who boycotted the Senate meeting accused the Vice-Chancellor of using the Senate at his own whim.

Yesterday, enraged Arts faculty students laid seige to the university premises after authorities declared the university grounds out of bounds to students after 12 noon.

There had been constant protests by certain student factions demanding the removal of the Vice Chancellor, but this was the first time a member of the academic staff had openly criticised him.

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