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Wednesday , February 13 , 2013
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Political battle extracts fatal price

Teachers at Harimohan Ghose College said on Tuesday they were not surprised by the violence as the institution has over the past few years been a battlefield for political one-upmanship.

A teacher told Metro that academic activities had taken a backseat at the college as the governing body headed by urban development minister Firhad Hakim “never consults” teachers on any major issue.

“We have been sidelined and no one bothers to listen to our suggestions,” said a teacher, who is one of the members of the governing body.

Hakim, also the government nominee in the governing body, assumed charge as president in September 2012.

Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee is also a member of the panel, which had been a Left fief till 2011.

“The governing body has not done anything to improve the academic standard of the college…. It seems the only objective of the panel is to ensure that Trinamul enjoys a clout at the college,” said a teacher, ruing how the ruling party’s promise of change has remained a lip service.

“Earlier, Left leaders used to exert influence on college matters. Now, Trinamul leaders do so. That’s the only change,” the teacher added.

The SFI had ruled the students’ union at the college for around 25 years and some teachers said local CPM leadership had played a role in ensuring the hegemony.

Maintaining the tradition of uncontested polls, Chhatra Parishad had swept the Harimohan Ghose College union in 2011 and Trinamul Chhatra Parishad last year.

This year’s problem, a college teacher pointed out, is between the student wings of the Congress and Trinamul as both want to win the election uncontested.

“The environment on and around the campus was becoming volatile over the past few months because of the high-handedness of pro-Trinamul students and teachers. They have been forcing the authorities to let outsiders interfere in college matters,” the teacher said.

Local goons had entered the campus during a trouble over students’ union poll in 2010. One of them was seen running around with a gun.

Some teachers alleged that the college administration had finalised the dates for holding the students’ union polls in a clandestine manner, without consulting the teachers.

“We were in the dark about the schedule,” the teacher said.

Bijay Acharya, teacher-in-charge of the college since February last year, said: “I held talks with Firhad Hakim about holding the election about 10 days back. He advised me to hold it on a suitable day.”

college clash roll call

Metro profiles the cast of the violence at Garden Reach that claimed the life of a sub-inspector on Tuesday

Mohammed Mukhtar

Who he is A former Citu leader at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers who was accused of assaulting Mamata Banerjee at Hazra in 1992. After the last Assembly elections, he switched allegiance to the Congress when the Trinamul Congress did not respond to his overtures.

Political clout He is close to a Congress Rajya Sabha MP from the state. Mukhtar is reportedly unpopular in the party.

Role in Tuesday’s violence Many feel he sparked the violence by going to the college with his supporters, who are mainly workers at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers.

Tabrez Ansari

Who he is The eldest son of Trinamul strongman from Metiabruz, Shamsuzzaman Ansari. His wife, Rubina Nazz, is the Trinamul councillor of ward 135.

Political clout He is perceived to be close to a Trinamul MP and a key minister in the Mamata cabinet.

Role in Tuesday’s violence He was part of the Trinamul group outside the college and allegedly fired a few rounds.

Mohammed Iqbal alias Munna

Who he is A CPM local committee member, who moved to Trinamul in 2010 and was elected councillor from ward 134. He is also chairman of borough 15 of the CMC.

Political clout He is perceived to be close to mayoral council member Shamsuzzaman Ansari and a key state minister.

Role in Tuesday’s violence He allegedly led the Trinamul attackers outside Harimohan Ghose College. The shooter is a relative of one of his associates.

Ranajit Sil

Who he is Trinamul councillor of ward 133.

Political clout Close to Iqbal and a key state minister.

Role in Tuesday’s violence His son Abhijit Sil was injured when a crude bomb exploded late on Monday in an under-construction building a few metres from the college. Abhijit and four others were allegedly making crude bombs to use on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ibne

Who he is A close aide of Trinamul councillor Iqbal.

Political clout According to Trinamul workers in the port area, Ibne handles “all matters” for Iqbal.

Role in Tuesday’s violence While his nephew Sheikh Subhan shot the cop, Ibne could be seen assaulting Congress workers outside the college.

To stay here, support TMC: ‘Victim’

The only person injured in the violence is a self-proclaimed Trinamul supporter who claims to have been hit by a bullet but doctors say the injury might have been caused by bomb splinters as well.

Tahir Hussain, 26, who underwent a surgery at CMRI Hospital, worked as “an electrician” in the college.

“Muhalle mein rehtein hain to Trinamul ko dekhna hoga, naa…Unka party hum logon ka khayal rakhta hai (If one is staying in the locality, one has to support Trinamul. They take care of us),” he told Metro.

“I reached the college around 11.30am and was standing beside the gate with local residents. I saw Mukhtar and his men were creating trouble,” said Hussain. “I heard a gunshot and then felt a piercing pain in my left palm. I couldn’t identify the shooter in the crowd,” he added.

“Hussain suffered muscle injury under the little finger. During surgery, we didn’t find any bullet. We removed some carbon particles,” said surgeon B.B. Chandra. According to doctors, the particles could be from a bullet or fragments of a bomb. “It’s difficult to say without forensic examination whether the injury was caused by bullet or splinters of a bomb,” said a doctor.

Sanjay Mandal