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VC denies cop allegation

- Police-Presidency spat over April 2013 vandalism
Presidency University students on Thursday protest the April 10, 2013 attack on the campus, by youths carrying Trinamul flags, and police’s alleged delay in wrapping up the probe and filing a chargesheet against the attackers. (Pradip Sanyal)

Presidency vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar has denied police’s allegation that the university’s “non-cooperation” was partly responsible for the delay in the probe into last year’s campus vandalism.

“I am curious to know who on behalf of the police has said this. Within a few days of the incident (on April 10, 2013), the police twice came to me to record my statement. I said all I knew. They had spoken to our registrar and other officials and recorded their statements, too,” said Sarkar.

On April 10, 2013, a group of men carrying Trinamul flags had entered the College Street campus, ransacked the undergraduate laboratories in the historic Baker building and chased and beaten up some of the students.

“I am at a loss trying to figure out who is making these comments about non-cooperation on the part of the university. Those who came to record the statement, which were recorded on video, must know the facts. But the one who has spoken about non-cooperation must not be aware of the exact situation,” she added.

Sarkar said she was surprised that the police could not conclude its investigation in one year. “This is surprising. The inquiry began within days of the incident…. I genuinely feel the probe should have been completed much earlier,” she said. “I hope the chancellor would look into the issue.”

On Wednesday, police officers had accused the university of “non-cooperation”, blaming it for the delay in completing the probe, and alleged that officials were not providing conclusive information about a javelin allegedly used in the attack.

“University officials are not giving any conclusive information about whether a javelin had gone missing from their keep. It is being said that the attackers had brought the javelin from outside. But none of the video footage shows anyone entering the premises with a javelin. Such javelins are present in the university’s store,” a police officer had told Metro.

A university official, whose statement the police had recorded earlier, countered the charge on Wednesday, saying the TV footage did not show anyone entering the premises with a javelin because it was wrapped in a party flag.

On Thursday, the official wondered why the police did not get in touch with the VC in the past year and seek more information about the javelin.

Police officers, however, stuck to their point. “Javelins are there in the university’s store. But they are claiming nothing is missing from there. On the other hand, we have no proof to substantiate that the javelin was brought from outside. In that case, the matter remains inconclusive,” an officer said on Thursday.

A senior officer dealing with the case had said on Wednesday the police were yet to conclude the probe and the chargesheet could be submitted only after the inquiry was over. Without a chargesheet, the trial cannot start.

“There is no CCTV surveillance inside the campus. Had there been such a surveillance, we could have easily identified the persons who went on the rampage. There is no witness from the university to testify who broke windows or damaged the laboratories,” said an officer.

On the campus, students protested the delay in wrapping up the probe and filing a chargesheet on the anniversary of the attack.

Supporters of both Independents’ Consolidation, which heads the Presidency Students’ Union, and the SFI assembled in the portico to criticise the alleged police inaction. “The police are delaying the probe because supporters of the ruling party were involved in the attack,” alleged a student who had a black badge pinned on his shirt.