Mumbai: You got molested? You want justice? No, you won’t get it. Rather, your friends will be beaten up and molested in return. Reads abnormal? Yes, that’s the current state of West Bengal where at least 40 students, including girls, were arrested and molested by police and local goons – allegedly belonging to Trinamool Congress (TMC) – in the early hours of Wednesday.
According to sources, 36 of them have been hospitalised too. It had not even been 48 hours since Suzette Jordon – the Park Street rape survivor – was refused entry into a restaurant, that another incident has rocked Kolkata.
The students had demanded an impartial investigation into the molestation incident of an undergraduate student that took place on August 28 evening, during the annual cultural festival. Apart from the second year student (who was maltreated) by few men alleged to be hostilities, her male friend was also taken in a corner and beaten up.
But the Vice Chancellor (VC) kept making matter worse with no action on the issue and non co-operation.
Hence, a peaceful non-violent protest was initiated by the students from September 11 in the form of audio drama, poetry and music at the Aurobinda Bhavan (VC’s office) premises.
According to sources and the Facebook page titled Students Against Campus Violence , the VC had said he could go to the extent of using state forces to call off the agitation which one can conclude, he did.
Rittika Dasgupta, a first year student told Deccan Chronicle, “We were sitting outside Aurobindo Bhavan and singing when the lights suddenly went off at 2 am and people in civil clothes arrived. I can easily identify one of them who was molesting us and smirking at us. That guy touched us, groped us, I am a victim of this. When the guys came to protest, they were beaten up.”
Rittika added: “We also heard them talking amongst themselves that come what may, the VC should be brought out of the campus safely.”
The VC was in his office since Tuesday morning and the police came and escorted him out at night at the expense of students being whipped and lathi charged.
Aritra Sengupta, one of the students present at the site, confirmed, “The girls’ clothes were torn off after dragging them by hair and the boys were beaten up by police and local hooligans which we suspect to be from TMC. I asked one of the cops as to who were the ones in civil clothes but did not get an answer. We were mere spectators to the atrocity.”
The incident, referred to as gherao by media, is not true according to the students.
Since the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university did not officially make a statement regarding the molestation issue, the learners, from all streams irrespective of their political colours, gathered calling for action. What started with harmony and silence ended in a pool of blood.
“It was not a gherao, we just sat in the Aurobindo Bhavan building premises (the VC’s office) expecting he would open his mouth and order a probe. We were fighting for the honour of our fellow college mate who was attacked.
During the first General Body Meeting, one of the alleged hostilities turned up and even accepted he beat up the victim’s male friend and threatened to do it again. Still, nothing was done,” said Laboni Chatterjee, a third year student.
“In the peaceful demonstration, we let all teachers and staff work in peace,” she added.
“Earlier, two professors, Sarbani Ganguly and Oishika Chakraborty, representing the university’s anti-harassment cell had visited the victim’s house and asked her questions as to what did she drink and what clothes she wore the time she was attacked further infuriating the students,” added Laboni.
The last update, received by the reporter around 6 am on Wednesday is that the students blocked the road outside Jadavpur Police Station and RAF has been brought to clear the cordon.
Among the many arrested, few identified are Shounak Mukhopadhyay, Debjan Sengupta, Siddharth Sinha, Diptokirti Samajdar, Sudhanya Pal, Sourav Ghosh and Arkapratim Biswas.
Watch: Violence at Jadavpur University