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Assault whips up campus strike frenzy

Disruption signals are flashing at Jadavpur University and classes are likely to be suspended in the latter half of Thursday, with the teachers’ association, Juta, planning half-a-day’s protests and ceasework.

The teachers will protest Monday’s assault on Juta vice-president and mechanical engineering teacher Tarun Kanti Naskar in front of the university, allegedly in the presence of policemen. This is the third assault on a JU teacher in the recent past, said association members, and they suspect that their anti-government stance in educational matters has added muscle to the assaults.

Though five of the six persons named in the FIR were arrested on Wednesday, teachers say they feel insecure on or near the campus. Naskar, in his allegation, said he was beaten up by some CPM cadre and had his glasses snatched away for supporting Monday’s Suci-sponsored bandh. A university non-teaching staff helped them identify him, before moving away from the spot, he added.

“The police officer present there, instead of arresting the assailants, pleaded with them to return my glasses,” Naskar said. “They did that but warned me not to get involved in any anti-government activities in future,” he added. The policeman, asked why he did not apprehend the assailants, reasoned that he had to “retain his job”, said Naskar.

Teachers on Wednesday distributed leaflets on the campus and are planning to wear black badges and organise other agitational programmes during the post-lunch session on Thursday.

Juta is the only anti-CPM organisation controlling any teachers’ union in any university in the state. The organisation does not see eye-to-eye with the government on many issues — including the hike of tuition fees for students of the university — and has repeatedly raised uncomfortable questions, particularly about the alleged irregularities in several university appointments.

“Juta is facing the brunt of the ruling party’s ire for these reasons,” Naskar claimed on Wednesday. “But we would like our opponents to confront us democratically, instead of having us beaten up at regular intervals,” he added. Other teachers to be assaulted on the campus in the recent past include Bhaskar Gupta and Dipak Banerjee.

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