Jan. 15: An undergraduate student fell prey to suspected campus politics in Bengal today, underscoring the state’s refusal to learn from another college poll-related murder less than a year ago.
Paresh Mondal, 21, died today afternoon after he was beaten up on his way back from a North 24-Parganas college where he had campaigned for the students’ union elections he was contesting.
Paresh was a BA first year student of Kalinagar College in Sandeshkhali, about 80km from Calcutta.
The student was identified as a Trinamul Chhatra Parishad supporter and his attackers are said to be SFI and CPM activists. The SFI has denied the charge and cited cardiac failure as the cause of death. Police have registered a murder case.
Trinamul workers led by minister Jyotipriya Mullick have taken Paresh’s body to Peace Haven, a mortuary in Calcutta. “Tomorrow morning, we will take the body from Peace Haven at 11am in a procession to the Gandhi statue at Mayo Road. Our leader Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to attend,” Mullick said.
The death revived memories of the violence in Garden Reach College over the student union polls last February, which took the life of sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury.
The state government had then pressed the pause button on college elections for six months and vowed to clean up the system by incorporating the Lyngdoh commission suggestions that focused on depoliticisation and recognition of merit.
Although the state higher education council had prepared a code of conduct based on the commission’s recommendations, it was not implemented when the government lifted the ban on college polls last September. The education minister had then said: “No other state has implemented itů what’s the hurry?”
Apart from implementing some administrative procedures like deploying armed police on campuses or conducting polling in phases, nothing much was done.
According to family members, Paresh was returning home on his bicycle after campaigning for the college polls when some SFI activists attacked him, allegedly for filing nomination. On Monday, Paresh had filed the papers for the post of general secretary for the January 22 polls.
According to Paresh’s elder sister Susmita, her brother developed breathing trouble after reaching home.
Paresh succumbed to his injuries on way to the Basirhat sub-divisional hospital, to reach where the family had to cross a 1km-wide river.
The violence coincides with a renewed turf battle in North 24-Parganas, once a CPM fief. Routed in the Assembly polls, the CPM, under the leadership of district secretary Gautam Deb, is trying to recover ground and assert its presence wherever possible.