New Delhi: A day after alleged manhandling of Union minister Babul Supriyo, Jadavpur University (JU) in Kolkata has become a new political battleground, with the BJP terming the university as a “hub of anti-nationals” in need for a “surgical strike”, the ruling Trinamool Congress blaming the Governor for ‘bypassing’ the state government, and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) condemning the “hooliganism of AVBP goons at Jadavpur University Campus in provocation of the Central Minister Babul Supriyo and in presence of the Governor.”
Friday also saw protest marches in Kolkata. The Left-backed Students Federation of India held a protest rally condemning the “hooliganism of ABVP goons”, while the BJP, too, took out a protest march.
As per reports, violence erupted on Thursday afternoon in JU after Supriyo entered the premises to address a seminar organised by the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, along with a security consort. He was greeted by black flags and slogans against ‘fascism” by various Left-backed students on his way to the event.
According to a report by Jitsoma Banerjee, a JU student, in The Wire, matters came to a head when the minister refused to budge from the site of the protest and “responded to the agitation with threats of his own. A few hours after the impasse, he was rescued by West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also the chancellor of the university – but not before some associated with the ABVP and the BJP started a fire, vandalised the Arts Faculty Students’ Union, the UG Arts building and a few shops in and around Gate no. 4 of the university. They also beat up some students who were found bleeding profusely near the site of violence.”
Students associated with the ABVP were also heard chanting ‘Jai shri Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ while setting fire to furniture, computers and ceiling fans and also painting ABVP on the walls of the room, according to a report in the Times of India.
The seminar was being held by the ABVP on the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pitching for in the whole country despite it being a disaster in Assam. According to reports, Supriyo, while responding to the protesting students, allegedly threatened that “all those with minority opinion and the minorities should be thrown out of the country”.
The minister also allegedly chided JU’s Vice Chancellor, who tried to quell the situation, for not ‘coming to receive him”. Some students who were present there said that at around 4 p.m, Supriyo was heard warning the VC of “dire consequences” if he did not call in the police, something which the VC is said to have stoutly declined, citing that police entry police in the university premises was subject to the Chief Secretary’s approval. The VC also held an emergency meeting of the academic council, which too, backed his stand.
However, seeing the VC being “heckled” by the Union minister, some students got infuriated and a scuffle broke out, after which the VC Suranjan Das, and Pro VC Pradip Kumar Ghosh had to be hospitalised. Thereafter followed the violence, leaving about 50 students injured, with picture of many of them bleeding being uploaded on social media.
As per reports, the West Bengal Governor is reportedly preparing to send a “strong advisory” to the Union Government, and even imposition of Article 355 is being considered by some of top brass of the Home Ministry. The Article entrusts the duty upon Union to protect states against “external aggression” and “internal disturbance”.
In a strong reminder of the events that unfolded in the Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, another Left stronghold that the Sangh Parivar has targeted as “anti-national”, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Friday said JU had “become a has become a hub of anti-nationals and communists and "our cadres" would conduct a Balakot-like surgical strike to destroy it, according to a PTI report. Ghosh he would write to Home Minister Amit Shah on this. The BJP has blamed the Students Federation of India, ‘Naxal’ students and TMC for the incident.
Meanwhile, the ruling TMC has condemned the governor. In a statement, TMC leader Partha Chaterjee said: “This is most unfortunate and shocking that our Governor, the custodian of the Constitution of the State, without informing the elected government went to the so-called rescue of the BJP leader from Jadavpur University.”
Incidentally, the flare-up in JU took place at a time when ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
City Intellectuals Express Concern, Seek Probe
A group of prominent personalities of West Bengal, including film director Aparna Sen and actor Kaushik Sen on Friday expressed concern over the violence and arson that took place during and after the visit of Union minister Babul Supriyo to Jadavpur University campus on Thursday.
In a statement here, 15 personalities said there was cause to worry over the behaviour of the minister with the VC of the university and the conduct of Supriyo's security personnel with the students, according to a PTI report.
"The protesting students should also have behaved in a restrained manner keeping in mind the restive atmosphere in the entire country.... Students should not be treated as hardened criminals in a healthy environment," they said.
Urging the state government to conduct a probe into the incident and punish the guilty, they called upon politicians not to do anything which will disturb the academic atmosphere of the university campus and tackle any emerging situation in a democratic way and not by violent means.
The personalities under the banner of 'Citizenspeak India' said they are also stunned and scared over the incident of "setting some objects on fire" in the chain of events following the protest.
(With inputs from Sandip Chakraborty in Kolkata)