| Soumik’s mother Gita talks to her son’s university mates outside the hospital on Wednesday. Soumik’s friends break down after his death. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Aug. 12: Soumik Basu died this afternoon after fighting a four-day battle.
A victim of campus violence, the third-year electrical engineering student of Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu), had been on life support for the last three days after a fatal fall on Wednesday.
Major Amit De, the general manager of CMRI where Soumik had been admitted, said he died of cardiac arrest at 3.15 pm. His body was taken to the Kantapukur morgue for a post-mortem at 6.15 pm and then to his Salt Lake home.
When the end came today, Soumik’s mother Gita burst out in rage. “I had sent him to college to study,” she cried to her dead son’s university mates who had come to stand by her in her hour of grief.
University vice-chancellor Nikhil Ranjan Banerjea, who was also in the hospital, shared her anger. “I am deeply shocked. The university will remain closed on August 14 as a mark of respect.”
The Besu campus in Shibpur has been scarred by violence since the students’ union elections in July last year. A series of clashes on Tuesday night and the next morning is believed to have resulted in Soumik’s death.
The 21-year-old was running in panic when he fell off the second floor of a hostel into an open drain.
A craniotomy (brain operation) was performed on Soumik, who had suffered a serious head injury, but his condition remained critical.
The Students’ Federation of India, which clashed with the Independent Consolidation, blamed the rival students’ union for Soumik’s death. Soumik was reportedly an SFI member.
“IC has always promoted indiscipline and violence on the campus in the name of a non-political forum. The result is that one of our comrades died today. We want that the police inquiry into the incident be made public and those found responsible punished. This indiscipline on the campus has to be stopped for the sake of education,” said SFI district secretary Soumitra Adhikari.
IC spokesperson Kaustav Banerjee said the students are “shell-shocked”.
“Both the unions are responsible for the incident on the college campus on Wednesday. His death emphasises the need to depoliticise the campus,” he said, adding that “this is nothing but a terrible accident”.
Political leaders have been unanimous in condemning the escalating violence on the campus and have raised doubts about the university authorities’ ability to maintain discipline.
CPM state secretary Biman Bose today said: “Such an incident should not have happened. The college authorities need to be more vigilant and should frame rules to pre-empt such unfortunate incidents. The student community, too, needs to come forward and create a healthy atmosphere in academic institutions.”
Union information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said he might talk to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to find out whether there were lapses on the part of the college administration. “I have been in student politics for several years. How can this happen' If possible, I will talk to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,” he said.
The SFI has called a strike on Monday to protest against the incident.