"Who will stop them from putting an end to their hunger strike? They should feel proud of that university and they should discontinue their hunger strike," Tripathi told the media here.

A section of the varsity's students launched a fast-unto-death late Monday night to press for the removal of vice chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti. They rejected the registrar's appeal to initiate a discussion.

As many as 11 students began the hunger strike at 10 p.m. on Monday in front of the administrative building. They covered themselves with blankets, camping out in the wintry night.Meanwhile, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has called a meeting on January 9 with representatives from the university's students community and authorities to resolve the ongoing impasse.

The students have been clamouring for Chakrabarti's removal since Sep 17 when the university authorities ordered a police crackdown on a sit-in by students who were demanding an independent investigation into the alleged molestation of a female student inside a hostel.

The incident triggered protest rallies in the city and had a ripple effect across the country, with college alumni organising protest marches in Delhi and Mumbai. Many students also boycotted the 59th annual convocation of the university in December last year.

The agitation brought together the Kolkata diaspora and university alumni in solidarity through social networking websites. Amid the clamour for his removal, Chakrabarti, who was the interim vice chancellor, was given full time responsibility by Governor Tripathi, who is the ex-officio chancellor.

The state government later instituted a five-member probe panel headed by University of Calcutta vice chancellor Suranjan Das to look into the prima facie evidence of the alleged molestation. Two university students and an alumnus were arrested and subsequently released on bail.

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