Calcutta, July 22: For the first time in the 189-year history of Presidency College, a minister was turned away from its gates by screaming students who climbed on top of his car.
“It is a shocking incident,” said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, an alumnus. “I have sought a detailed report.”
A group protesting against the molestation of a student on the campus on Wednesday stopped higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty from entering the college.
“Go back, minister, go back,” the students, under the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation, an SUCI affiliate, screamed as Chakraborty sat in his Ambassador.
The handful of policemen deployed after Wednesday’s incident looked on helplessly as the ranks of the protesters swelled, with outsiders joining the students.
Chakraborty had come to attend a programme organised by an NGO.
The protesters surrounded the car and many began to thump on its top and the sides. Some climbed on top of the car, shouting slogans.
“I am deeply hurt at the way the students prevented me from entering the college,” Chakraborty later said. “I was shocked' Young women were stamping atop the car roof and the bonnet. I could not believe that I was witnessing such an incident in Presidency.”
To old-timers, the scene was reminiscent of Mamata Banerjee, then a Youth Congress activist, climbing on top of Jayaprakash Narayan’s car at Calcutta University.
At one point, the protesters told the police they would submit a memorandum to the minister. Although Chakraborty initially declined to accept it, he changed his mind and took it. He exchanged a few words with the policemen and left.
Deputy commissioner of police Ajay Kumar said an inquiry has been ordered.
The college authorities expressed concern. “It was shocking and masterminded by outsiders. We will take stern action against any students found involved,” said principal Amitava Chatterjee.
The Presidency College Students’ Union, dominated by an apolitical group, said its members were not involved.
But Subrata Gauri, state AIDSO chief, claimed responsibility while maintaining that “no disrespect was shown to Satyasadhanbabu”.