Right now, India is witnessing one of the strongest student movements ever. It is been carried out by the students of Jadavpur University in Kolkata. But despite the magnanimity of the movement, a large number of people in the non-Eastern parts of the country are completely unaware about it thereby also not knowing its importance. This is largely due to the lukewarm coverage of the protest by the national media.
On August 28, a group of rowdy students allegedly beat up a guy and dragged her girlfriend into one of the rooms inside men’s hostel. She was tortured by a group of drunken men. However, she managed to escape. Next day, she notified the college about it and also registered a complaint with the police but no arrests were made though. In fact, there has been no action taken by the Vice Chancellor of the university, Abhijit Chakrabarti citing a lot of excuses. Although there were committees set up, it turned out to be like crores of other committees that amount to nothing.
Plus, on September 5, two women from the university’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell visited her place without any notice and asked her questions regarding the clothes she was wearing and whether she was drunk. What they said further would shock anyone. The girl was told by them that the incident has brought great shame to the college and if there are stricter laws imposed on outsiders, it is the victim who should be blamed.
This was enough for the students to be vocal about their displeasure at the disgraceful turn of events. They demanded rebuilding the Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell. Since nothing was being done by the college authorities, the students were left with no option but to hold a series of protests. The VC then asked the students to wait till the September 16 meeting of the Executive Councils. But as shocking as it may sound, the result of the meeting was a latter, which, instead of the grave issue at hand, spoke about students’ code of conduct. In other words, they rubbed salt on wound.
This forced the students to gherao the VC and other university officials. However, the VC didn’t even speak with the students and the demonstration went into the night. At around 8 pm, as per VC’s orders, the cops visited the scene. As the talks with the cops amounted to nothing, the protests continued through the night and at 2 am (September 17), the lights were turned off and the students were lathicharged. Students also went on to say that members of Trinamool Congress accompanied the police.
The lathicharge ensured that the VC was escorted out of the campus. But the students carried a roadblock, which ensured more lathicharge. There are also reports about female students being sexually assaulted in the ruckus.
Watch the police brutality against the students
This ensured that people not only from other institutions but from all walks of life joined the protests from September 20 onwards. Needless to say, support poured in for the students on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The ruling party TMC, however, staged a rally against students on September 22. It was reported that a number of people were forced to attend the rally. But if this wasn’t enough, there came a bomb from Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of the Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee. He questioned as to whether the protests are a result of the recent ban on illicit liquor or drugs on the campus.
This statement had an opposite effect as it helped picking up the moments. It triggered more enrage not only for the VC but also the ruling party and needless to say, Abhishek Banerjee.
Till today (September 24), the situation is the same. The students and the people of Kolkata are fighting with all their might against the wrong doers, who are showing no signs of budge.
So here is an appeal to the people of India to join the protest in various ways, the best could be visiting Kolkata for the same. The movement is not just against the VC but against gender violence in India. At a time when there is a huge demand for stricter laws against safety of women, we have a VC who is just not ready to make sure justice is done to the victim of the molestation. The authorities have also fallen as low as allegedly threatening students individually!
The movement is also about the voice, right and freedom of the movement… Education is being politicised by vested interests, who cannot even ensure students’ security.
If this is not enough to enrage you enough to join the protest, I don’t know what is.
Facebook page of the Jadavpur University protests –
Twitter page of the same –
The hashtag for the movement is #Hokkolorob