The gruesome killing of a 21-year-old student inside a college campus in Sabang Friday has turned into a political blame game amid the knowledge that the three arrested belonged to the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the student wing of the ruling party.
While Sheikh Sanowar is reportedly the wing’s Sabang chief, the other two — Munna Sheikh and Asit Maity — are its supporters. The three were arrested by the police late Friday night for beating to death Krishna Prasad Jana – a third-year BA student of Sajanaikanta Mahavidyalaya — in West Midnapore district’s Sabang area over what has emerged as the student’s “refusal” to attend a relief distribution programme where state minister Soumen Kumar Mahapatra was to be felicitated. The student reportedly had come to the college to “fill up some form” but was accosted by the “TMCP supporters” who locked him inside a room and beat him with rods and sticks to death.
Saturday saw the Congress’ Chhatra Parishad (of which Jana was reportedly a supporter) observing a statewide bandh, blocking several city roads, including at College Street. The bandh was backed by the four students’ unions of Left Front.
Congress’ Sabang MLA Manas Bhuniya blamed the supporters of the ruling party for killing a youth of a “poor farmer’s family”.
“He (Jana) was pursuing his studies with great difficulties. He was trying to complete his graduation after he had failed to clear the exams in 2013 and 2014. He had come (to the college on Friday) to fill some form but was killed by the TMC goons who were forcing supporters of Chhatra Parishad to join a reception to be given to a TMC minister (Mahapatra) who was supposed to visit flood-affected areas in Sabang,” Bhuniya said.
Bhuniya, who is camping in Sabang, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called him up Friday night and expressed grief over the “unfortunate death”. He, however, added that “the college principal (Dr Kanailal Paria), the police and the TMC have joined hands to shield the real culprits”.
Besides the three arrested, Bhuniya alleged that two other supporters of TMCP — Tarun Mishra and Bimal Maity — had “instigated and perpetrated the violence” which led to the student’s killing. “But they have not been arrested yet.”
He also claimed that the police are treating “a complaint letter written to the principal” as the FIR which does not have the names of the three arrested. “This is a blatant partisan act,” said Bhuniya and added that the party was exploring legal avenues to ensure that a supplementary FIR is registered with the names of the culprits mentioned in it.
Bhuniya said that the letter was sent to the principal “while the TMCP men were indulging in violence” at the college campus. The principal forwarded that letter to the police who are now treating it as the FIR filed in connection with the student’s murder.
Conversely, the state’s Education Minister Partha Chatterjee accused Bhuniya of “playing politics over a student’s death”. “Any death of a student is sad and the police have been asked to take stern action against whomsoever is involved.”
He reiterated Mamata’s statement Friday that since the union at the college belongs to the Chhatra Parishad (it occupies all 31 seats), the TMCP could not be involved in the violence. “It remains to be investigated who fought with whom and what triggered the violence. The Chhatra Parishad union’s general secretary was sitting in the principal’s room when the trouble began,” Chatterjee said.
Bhuniya said that a detailed report will be sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The party has planned an agitation against the “TMC-sponsored violence in state’s colleges,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jana’s body was handed over to the family Saturday afternoon. Supporters took out a rally, carrying the body from the state Congress’ office in Sabang to the college.