Massive protest in Kolkata over attack on Presidency University

A day after a group of people, holding the flag of the Trinamool Congress students’ wing, vandalised Presidency University here, its students, teachers and alumni took to the streets in protest.

Though the Trinamool leadership, including Education Minister Bratya Basu, continues to claim that the party supporters were not involved in Wednesday’s incident, television footage aired by local channels showed that Partha Basu, a Trinamool Councillor, was present outside the university gate before the incident.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has directed the City Police Commissioner to enquire into the vandalism and submit a report in two weeks. It also initiated an independent probe by the former principal, Amal Mukherjee.

Governor M.K. Narayanan, who is the Chancellor of the 195-year-old university, condemned the incident saying, “Those who ransacked [the institution] should be treated as criminals.”

“We are not going to take things lying down,” Vice-Chancellor Malabika Sarkar said, adding “the university and its students have become soft target for hooligans.”

Asked about the statements of Trinamool leaders that the attackers were not associated with the party, Prof. Sarkar said this claim must be decided by investigations, but maintained the vandals in no way appeared to be students.

She sent a letter to Mr. Narayanan narrating the entire episode and asked what steps the university should take to prevent recurrence of such incidents. Two persons have been arrested in connection with Wednesday’s violence in which a group broke open the lock of the university main gate and attacked the 100-year-old Baker Laboratory in the Physics department, where renowned scientists Jagadish Chandra Bose and Satyendra Nath Bose had worked.

On Thursday the students observed a strike and, their mouths tied with bands, took out a march along with teachers and alumni, demanding that those responsible for the incident be apprehended.

Condemning the attack, Magsaysay award winning writer Mahasweta Devi said student politics should be “kept apart” from the general political scenario.