Who is to Blame For the Fiasco at Jadavpur Univ? Well, Everybody

What happened in JU on 19 September was unprecedented, even for a university known to be a political battlefield.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read

Video editor: Abhishek Sharma

On 19 September 2019, the campus of the Jadavpur University in Kolkata saw blood, gore and fire. And what transpired that day was unprecedented, even for a university that is known to be a political battlefield.

Let’s go through the sequence of events, one by one, and take a look at why this tamasha was a result of major failure on the part of ALL stakeholders involved in the process.

Dear Students, Assault is Not Okay

Around 2:45 pm that day, MP Babul Supriyo arrived at the Jadavpur University to attend a fresher’s welcome organised by the ABVP. Fashion designer, and the BJP’s recent recruit, Agnimitra Paul was an invitee as well.

On reaching the venue, Supriyo was met with black flags and ‘go back’ slogans by protesting students from Left organisations, who were against “fascist forces entering the campus", specifically citing the example of the BJP’s support for the NRC.

Footage from the campus around the time shows that a major scuffle broke out between the students and Supriyo. There’s also footage showing that Supriyo was pulled by his hair during the commotion.

Dear students, protesting is your right, and campus politics is a sign of a healthy democracy.

BUT, if you were protesting “fascist forces”, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that the protest doesn’t turn vile or violent. Because that too is, well, 'fascist’.

Dear Babul Supriyo, No One is Obligated to ‘Receive’ You

Now, if the students are to be believed, during this time, Supriyo made objectionable comments directed at them. Some students have also alleged that Supriyo made insulting and derogatory comments towards women.

But what really agitated the students was when Supriyo misbehaved with the JU Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das, who came out to escort the minister to the venue of the event. At this point, as can be seen in the footage, Supriyo insulted the VC, saying:

“I am an elected representative of the country and a minister. What are you doing? You should have received me.”

To this, the VC said that receiving him was not his prerogative as he had not been invited to the ABVP event.

Supriyo then proceeded to call him a ‘Leftist’, and said that the “lack of governance” in JU was because of him. He even insisted that the VC call the police.

To this, the VC said that he’d rather resign than call police on campus.

Now, two things:

Firstly, Mr Supriyo, Suranjan Das is the VC of a state government-run institution. In other words, he has been put in his chair by the TMC government. Then, by what stretch of imagination, can he be a ‘Leftist’?

Thoda soch ke toh baat kar lijiye, minister sahab.

Also, newsflash, sir: NO ONE is obligated to come and receive you. Yes, even if you are a Union minister.

A Short Note For Mr Suranjan Das

Mr Das, calling police into an educational institute is deplorable. Agreed. And it is not a precedent that should be followed.

But, when you can see that the situation is getting out of hand, and that a Union minister is involved, why not call for backup? Especially, when the Trinamool is saying:

“The state police was waiting outside the University, but were unable to enter in the absence of any communication from the VC.”

This means that the police had arrived to handle a law and order situation, but was not allowed to handle it in advance.

Also, Assault is Not Okay Either

After this, Supriyo made multiple attempts to enter the event venue and was finally successful in doing so, around 4:30 pm.

When he came out, around 5:10 pm, he was met with a swollen crowd.

The students demanded that Supriyo apologise to the VC and the students.

Again, if the students are to be believed, Supriyo tried to escape the students' barricade but was stopped by the students, who then circled around him, singing songs of protest.

Now, footage from this time shows Supriyo getting aggressive with the students, and even physically assaulting them. There are claims that his bodyguards also roughed up some students.

Again, Mr Supriyo, you’re a minister. You should know better than to be aggressive with students. Is this behavior because, as the students claim, there were not many cameras around when this happened?

Dear Governor Dhankar, ‘Rescuing’ People is Not Your Job

Around 6:40 pm, Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankar, who is also the Chancellor of the Jadavpur University, arrived in his car to “rescue” Babul Supriyo.

We have learnt from sources that before reaching the campus, the governor had three phone conversations with CM Mamata Banerjee, who was in Delhi at the time.

The CM repeatedly urged him not to go to the campus, but the governor went ahead anyway.

Governor Sir, it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure your security. Who would have taken responsibility if the head of state had been injured, or worse, in the commotion that was happening at JU?

It is not your responsibility to “rescue” people, that’s the job of the police force.

ABVP, Why So Creepy?

(The above subtitle is not original and was first heard by this reporter at a students’ rally after the Ramjas College incident in Delhi in February 2017.)

After about two hours of jostling with the students, the governor finally managed to get Supriyo out of the campus around 8:10 pm.

Meanwhile, the ABVP stood outside the closed gates of JU.

They allegedly set fire to the gate, burnt posters, vandalised college property and, basically, took the level of violence one notch up.

My question is, why?

A minister you had invited was allegedly heckled, so your anger may be understandable. But HOW can students vandalising a college be?

Whatever your political affiliations may be, nothing—absolutely nothing—can justify vandalism in a place of education.

Dear State Government, a Little More Pro-Active, Please?

Finally, dear state government, this cannot go on.

Your education minister, your state secretaries and your police should have proactively been on the job from the moment this incident started gathering momentum.

Babul Supriyo is a Union minister. He is in your state. It is your job to protect him, irrespective of the politics.

Your politics has its place. And an educational institution is not it.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Published: 
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!