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Bratya delinks violence from union election

Rivalry between two groups of criminals, and not any students’ union election, triggered the Garden Reach violence, higher education minister Bratya Basu said on Thursday, drawing criticism from several quarters.

In an attempt to establish his claim, the minister pointed out that not one student or teacher of Harimohan Ghose College, in front of which a sub-inspector was shot dead, was injured in the flare-up.

“All election-related work at the college on Tuesday was held peacefully,” Basu said on the sidelines of a function at the secondary education board.

“We don’t think there is any urgent need to change the rules governing students’ union elections because of this particular incident. The incident was not related to the election at Harimohan Ghose College.”

It has been reported that the violence unfolded during the distribution of nomination forms for the students’ union election at the college.

Basu’s assertion came as a surprise to many college and university teachers, who saw in the minister’s statements a reflection of the government’s tendency to downplay incidents of campus violence in its attempt to shield the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad. The students’ wing of the ruling party has taken control of students’ unions at most colleges in the past year.

“The minister’s comment is surprising because everyone knows that criminals had gathered in front of the college to prevent rivals of Trinamul Chhatra Parishad from collecting nomination forms,” said a teacher at Calcutta University.

“The violence stemmed from Trinamul’s plan to win the poll uncontested,” said a teacher at the Garden Reach college.

The minister, however, said the government would bring a legislation to introduce a uniform set of rules for college polls across the state so that such elections are held peacefully.