In a major blow to the Jadavpur University students’ movement against the alleged molestation of a student on campus, the girl’s father on Monday, while joining Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad in its counter-protest rally, said he does not seek the Vice-Chancellor’s resignation anymore.
Ostensibly, TMC MP and president of Trinamool Yuva, Abhishek Banerjee, in a Facebook post Sunday night, wondered whether the students’ protest is because the “alcohol, marijuana and other narcotic substances have been banned” on the campus. He, however, did not participate in TMCP’s rally, citing “other engagements”.
With his move on Monday, the girl’s father virtually put an end to the students’ movement and asked them to return to their classes.
“I have had a word with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and she has assured me that my daughter will get justice and offenders will be punished,” the father told The Indian Express, a day after state education minister Partha Chatterjee met the family to discuss the issue.
He added: “I had previously demanded the V-C’s (Abhijit Chakrabarti’s) resignation but now that I have the assurance of the CM, I would like to respect that and don’t want him to resign anymore. The agitating students of JU are like my own children and I would urge them to return to their classes and let normalcy return at the university.”
Turning up at the same venue where the JU students had protested on September 19, the TMC’s student wing, joined by the girl’s father, began its counter-protest rally from the Academy of Fine Arts to reach Mayo Road where the police stopped them.
A sit-in demonstration followed, with allegations that the protests at JU were “politically fuelled”. TMCP president Shankudev Panda, who led the procession, said, “There are about 12,000 students at JU but only about 70 of them are protesting. And out of these, 50 are outsiders. The students who want the classes to resume are suffering because of these handful of politically motivated agitators.” Panda also met Governor K N Tripathi and submitted a deputation along with a CD containing video clippings of the agitating students.
The prevailing logjam at the state’s premier institute began after the university authorities turned a blind eye to one of its second-year Arts students’ written complaint on September 1 in which she had levelled allegations of molestation against some of the students who had forced her into the boys’ hostel inside the university campus on August 28. When the varsity did not take any step, the student filed an FIR on the next day.
With neither the police nor the varsity seemingly taking any action even after a fortnight, students, on September 16, gheraoed the V-C and other teachers, protesting against the apathy of university authorities. The V-C, confined in his office for over 12 hours, called the police around midnight for help. The police turned up at the scene, and in the process of escorting the V-C and teachers out of the campus, beat up the protesting students after switching off the lights, and later arrested 36 of them who are currently lodged in jail.