| A protester on the Jadavpur University campus. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, June 11: Police moved into Jadavpur University in the dead of the night and a mounted a baton-charge to evict students who refused to call off a fast-unto-death.
Tension ran high on the campus today as students organised rallies and silent marches and shouted slogans condemning the police action. Allegations of police torture also flew thick and fast.
The policemen arrived in batches at the university gate, packed with demonstrators, close to midnight yesterday. They were protesting against the suspension of five students for allegedly assaulting some senior officials of the university in 2003.
The police requested them to withdraw the agitation. When they refused, the policemen charged at the students with lathis, injuring several of them.
Around 1 am, the police packed five of the striking students ' who had become very weak after five days of fasting ' into a van and took them to the nearby government-run M.R. Bangur Hospital.
The five were then locked in a room in the emergency ward. The students alleged that they were beaten up there as well, but the police denied it.
Two students had been taken to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital yesterday after they passed out.
Shocked by the 'unprecedented' incident, the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students' Union (Fetsu) today called upon students to take their movement forward.
The Jadavpur University Teachers' Association, too, threatened to knock on the doors of the highest authorities in the government.
The fast-unto-death, which began on Monday, had put the campus on the boil for the past couple of days after Fetsu ignored the requests of the authorities, including vice-chancellor Ashoke Nath Basu, to withdraw their agitation.
'Today onwards, we are going to keep ourselves away from all academic activities, including the semester examinations slated to begin from June 15,' Parag Banerjee, the assistant general secretary of Fetsu, said.
'Our movement is against the university authorities. The police should not have treated us this way. They did not even spare the women,' another Fetsu leader said.
Cries of protest also rang from the parents of students who faced the police assault. They threatened to take up the matter with human rights organisations.
'The worst could have happened last night had some doctors and nurses not intervened and stopped the policemen from beating my son mercilessly inside the hospital's emergency ward,' said Tapasi Bhaduri, mother of Jayabrata. 'I wonder how they (the policemen) could be so unkind to my son who was already weak after fasting for five days at a stretch.'
S.N. Gupta, the superintendent of police, South 24- Parganas, admitted the lathicharge took place but denied that the students had been beaten up in the hospital.
'The police force was sent to lift the agitation after the university authorities requested us to intervene as the condition of some of the striking students was deteriorating. We took the students to the hospital for treatment,' he said.