The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rally to campus, Left smells threat to vocation

Calcutta, Oct. 19: “Disasters” do not come alone.

The students’ wings of the Left Front, which have just learnt about the Kerala High Court ruling against violent demonstrations on the campus, are crying hoarse.

The verdict, coinciding with their parent parties’ opposition to Justice Amitava Lala’s restrictions on rallies, could not have come at a worse time, admitted the Left student leaders.

Although a Kerala court has issued the ruling, Left student-wing leaders said they could not ignore the “implications”. Political freedom is being attacked from many fronts and the Kerala verdict is part of a pattern, they said.

The verdict stated: “If the situation so warrants, police can enter campuses without the request or permission (of the authorities) to prevent criminal activities. No special treatment should be meted to the striking students, who indulge in violence, solely on the ground that they are students or the incidents have taken place on the campus.”

The SFI general secretary in Bengal, Apurba Chatterjee, said this afternoon that his organisation would launch a statewide movement against the ruling. The issue will top the agenda in the ongoing state committee meeting that began yesterday in north Bengal, Chatterjee said from Mirik.

“This is an infringement on our democratic rights to launch demonstrations on college campuses. We shall not abide by the verdict under any circumstance,” he said, adding that the SFI would soon contact other Left student organisations to mount a “united protest” against the judgment.

“No responsible students’ organisation wants violence on the campus but situations sometimes go out of hand,” Chatterjee said. Also, only students could not be held responsible, he added.

SFI state vice-president Shankar Ghosh felt the ban was part of a nationwide “organised” attempt by “some vested interest groups” to curb democratic rights.

“This is a well-designed plot to impose restrictions on the people’s right to protest and their freedom of speech. We have a feeling that it is a deep-rooted, countrywide move towards privatisation of education,” he warned.

Ghosh also made it clear that the proposed all-India SFI-sponsored students’ strike on December 11 against the BJP’s move to saffronise education will focus on the verdict.

Students’ Bloc (a Forward Bloc affiliate) leader Debabrata Ray supported the SFI’s stand. “A state-level meet will be convened soon to decide on our plans of protest,” he said.

The All India Students’ Federation (the CPI students’ wing) state president Abhijit Bhattacharya called the verdict “uncalled for”.

“Our Kerala unit will be contacted and a nationwide movement is going to be launched,” he added.

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