AVBP rally a let-down after hype
Around 500 to 600 ABVP supporters joined a march that started from Golpark and ended at Selimpur — around 1.6km short of their destination, Jadavpur University — on Monday afternoon.
The rally was organised to demand action against those responsible for the “illegal detention” and “physical abuse” of Union minister Babul Supriyo on the JU campus on Thursday.
Supriyo had visited the campus to attend an ABVP programme.
“This was the first time that we planned such a rally in Calcutta. Given the controversy over the incident, we had expected a much bigger turnout,” said an ABVP leader.
In contrast, around 7,000 students and teachers of JU had marched from the campus to Golpark and back last Friday to protest the alleged vandalism by ABVP supporters.
Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and ABVP leaders had said at a meeting chaired by RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in Howrah’s Uluberia over the weekend that the Jadavpur incident had given the students’ organisation, a marginal player in Bengal, a much-needed push.
Against this backdrop, police had made elaborate arrangements to tackle any untoward incident. Around 2,000 cops and four water cannons were deployed along the rally route.
The rally, which started at 2pm, could not proceed beyond Selimpur, where the cops had set up steel barricades near a petrol pump.
A handful of protesters lunged every now and then at the barricade. Behind them, another group sat on the road and kept shouting slogans. From a mini-truck, a lone voice egged on the protesters not to leave.
Most of the marchers, however, left by 2.45pm. Scores of protesters sat on the platform under the divider on Gariahat Road.
“We came in a group of 10 to 12 from JU. Although we have around 1,500 supporters on the campus, our current membership strength is around 55,” said Utsav Chakraborty, a research scholar in physics and the head of the ABVP unit at JU.
The bulk of the slogans and posters ranted about JU being a “hotbed” of drugs, ultra-Left politics and anti-national activities. “I am an alumnus of JU. I want the campus to be free of anti-nationals,” read a poster.
“Everybody knows what happens at JU. The campus is full of drink, drugs and sex,” said a youth from Khardah, in North 24-Parganas.