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Students blame V-C for assault at Visva-Bharati

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Our protest against CAA, NRC has triggered the violence, say students; varsity denies “political colour”

At least three students of Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan were beaten up inside the campus on Wednesday. The students alleged that some 12 persons from outside assaulted them with “rods, pipes and sharp objects” near Bidya Bhavan Hostel. Two former students had been arrested for the attack.

Swapnaneel Mukherjee, who is in hospital with deep bruises, said the attack was a fallout of the students’ protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.

“While beating ... they made it clear that we are punished for organising the protest,” said Mr. Mukherjee, who is associated with a left-leaning student association. The protests were organised under a new students’ front, Visva-Bharati Students’ Unity.

It gheraoed BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta last week when he came to speak for the CAA at the Central university administered by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development. The incident irked rightist outfits and attacks were mounted on the students at the forefront of the protest over the last week.

Achintya Bagdi, one of the two arrested, enrolled himself in various streams between 2013 and 2019 — from ancient history and anthropology to philosophy — but could not clear the final examination.

Sabir Ali, the other person, left the university in 2016 and thus “they are not connected to the university”, a note from the assaulted students said. The students named one Sudipta Garai for the attack and said there was “absolutely no security inside the campus”.

The university administration said Visva-Bharati was not involved in the incident in any way. "There is no political colour to it”, public relations officer (PRO) of the university Anirban Sircar told The Hindu.

He said the moment the administration learnt about the incident, officials reached the spot and controlled the situation. Asked whether the university was taking any steps against students involved in the violence, the PRO said, “They are looking into the matter.” The students alleged that the attackers were formerly associated with the Trinamool Congress while they “either work for the BJP or the ABVP now”.

The students held Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakravarty “directly responsible” for the attack. “The attackers escorted the Vice-Chancellor’s vehicle in bikes and moved towards the campus on Wednesday afternoon. It indicates that he facilitated their entry,” a student said on condition of anonymity. The Vice-Chancellor was called several times but his phone went unanswered.

Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said the ABVP was involved in the violence. He said it had been carrying out attacks in institutes in the country to suppress democratic protests. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh expressed surprise at the allegation. He said the AVBP does not have the support to carry out such attacks. “I don’t know if AVBP has such support base to carry out attack in Visva Bharati. It is the goons of Trinamool Congress who have been involved in the violence. I think the police should take action.”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 12:03:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/students-attacked-at-viswa-bharati-campus/article30576737.ece

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