6000-strong message to CM Rally reflects anti-govt mood

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  • Published 19.09.14
Students march through Anwar Shah Road with a banner that reads “Lathir mukhe gaaner sur, dekhiye dilo Jadavpur (Jadavpur shows there can be music in the face of batons)”. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

Calcutta, Sept. 18: Over 6,000 students from campuses across Calcutta converged on Jadavpur University this afternoon, blurring political as well as collegiate lines to form a half-a-kilometre-long river of protest against alleged police brutality.

When the head of the rally was crossing the South City mall, the tail had just reached Jadavpur police station, 500 metres away.

Students from all three faculties of JU — arts, science and engineering — walked with students from institutes such as Presidency, Heritage Institute of Technology and St. Xavier’s College, braving a downpour near the mall.

“This is a procession organised by the students without any political banner. There are many of us who are not associated with any political groups on the campus. We are walking today because we are angry about what happened,” said a JU student of English.

JU has around 9,000 students. Many of them were on the campus since morning but did not attend classes. The students have called for a class boycott until their key demand — the resignation of interim vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti who had sought the help of the police — is met.

The VC has gone on a seven-day medical leave. If he fails to step down or the government resists pressure to ease him out and defuse the stand-off, his fate will be known when governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, as the chancellor, picks a permanent VC from a list that includes Chakrabarti’s name.

“We will be present outside Aurobindo Bhavan (on the campus). We will not allow the VC, pro-VC or the registrar to enter the university,” said Hindol Majumdar, a third-year student of pharmacy.

At the march, the students held aloft posters mocking the VC and the state government. The slogans ranged from booing the VC to challenging the might of the state. One slogan went “Aye Mamata dekhe ja, Jadavpur-er khamata (Come Mamata, see our might).”

Students identified Chakrabarti with the ruling party and the government. One poster read: “Jadavpur-er tinti guard/EC, VC, Kalighat.” A translation: JU has three guards/ EC (the varsity’s executive council), VC and Kalighat (the chief minister’s place of residence).

Some slogans echoed the anti-government mood. A sample: “Saradha-r sarkar aar nei darkar (We don’t need the Saradha government anymore).”

When the marchers crossed Jadavpur police station, outside which a large police contingent was standing, they slowed down and shouted: “Police tumi marle eto/maine tomar barlo koto (You thrashed us so much/how much did your salary go up)?”

The police had closed the main gate of Jadavpur police station as the rally crossed the building. The scenes were replayed when the procession took a U-turn from the Tollygunge end of Prince Anwar Shah Road.

Santosh Pandey, the deputy commissioner of police, south suburban division, was standing with other officers at the crossing. The students again slowed down and booed the policemen.

Some were carrying cardboard boxes in which they collected donations from students as well as onlookers. “This is a students’ movement and we need funds to carry on with our protests. We will need money to write posters,” said Deborshi Chanda, a first-year student of electrical engineering.

On the way back, the downpour compelled some to tear themselves away but nearly 4,000 marched along, drenched. A bigger rally has been planned for Saturday. The SFI brought out a separate rally.