Bengal Governor ‘rescues’ Union Minister Babul Supriyo from Jadavpur University

Students had held up the Union Minister after an event.

Updated - September 20, 2019 01:45 pm IST

Published - September 19, 2019 05:02 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo sit inside a car after the latter was heckled by a group of students at the Jadavpur University in Kolkata on September 19, 2019.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo sit inside a car after the latter was heckled by a group of students at the Jadavpur University in Kolkata on September 19, 2019.

Kolkata’s Jadavpur University campus turned into a battle ground on Thursday after students of the university surrounded Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo in the afternoon and did not let him leave the campus.

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar, who is also the Chancellor of Jadavpur University, managed to rescue Mr. Supriyo on Thursday night

While Mr. Dhankar could get the Union Minister out of the campus, his convoy was stopped for about an hour in front of the university gate with Mr. Supriyo onboard. Mr. Dhankar and Mr. Supriyo could finally leave the campus later at night.

The university witnessed rounds of fights on Thursday between students affiliated to both left and right wing political parties. Students’ union offices were ransacked by supporters of RSS’ students’ wing ABVP and members of Durga Bahini.

According to eyewitnesses, the commotion started early in the afternoon when students formed a barricade trying to stop Mr. Supriyo from entering the campus, who had come to address the freshers and attend a seminar on governance in India. However, even as Mr. Supiyo managed to enter the university, he was asked to apologise by the students when he tried to leave.

The Vice-Chancellor and other senior officials of the campus fell sick and were admitted to a south Kolkata hospital.

While it is not clear which students’ body led the protest, Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist [CPI-ML] condemned the incident. Red flags were also visible in the protest.

“We have always opposed political leaders from entering the campus, we are opposing such plans now as well. We don’t know how the Minister was allowed to hold a programme in the campus and why the authority gave the permission,” a student said. The students, few hundred in number, surrounded Mr Supriyo and shouted “go back” slogans. The university gates were blocked from inside.

“His security men manhandled the students, including girl students and the Minister used choicest words to abuse us. His security was fully armed. He has to apologise,” another student alleged. Mr. Supriyo said that that the campus had no security arrangement.

“If an untoward incident takes place State Government will be responsible,” he said. Mr. Supriyo further told the journalists that “television cameras should show agitating students, they should be identified and rusticated.” This further aggravated the situation and students refused to let him go out without an apology.

Meanwhile the Governor issued a statement arguing that the Union Minister is under “ gherao a section of the students.” He asked the Chief Secretary Malay De, to initiate “prompt” action. Mr. Dhankar spoke to Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das and told him that “it was improper for him [Mr. Das] not to have taken prompt steps in the matter.” The Governor’s statement further indicated that the “detention” of Mr. Supriyo was “unlawful” and a “serious reflection on the law and order of the State and on the conduct of the law enforcing agencies.” Meanwhile Mr. Das — who was admitted to a south Kolkata hospital — said that he will not let police enter the campus. Mr. Das’ predecessor faced massive student ire by letting police enter JU campus in 2014.

Soon after making the statement Mr. Dhankar arrived with a large police force and rescued Mr. Supriyo at around 8.15 p.m.

Once Mr. Supriyo left the campus, ABVP supporters entered the campus and damaged the union room of the students. They damaged the furniture of the union room, painted ABVP in pink on the walls, next to a painting of Che Guevara. They set some furniture and wooden material on fire, adjacent to the Gate 4 of JU.

Later at night, CPI-ML issued a statement saying that the Minister entered the campus with “fire arms” and “brutally attacked the students.” The statement alleged that the Minister “manhandled” a female student.

“This is planned hooliganism to create space in JU,” the CPI-ML State Secretary Partha Ghosh said. Both Trinamool Congress and CPI-M leaders independently said both the Minister and the students are "responsible" for the flare up. Protests are planned in the university on Friday.

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