Members of Maitree Women’s Network have strongly condemned the late night attack on protesting students by police and another group allegedly owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress.
By Team FI
Expressing their solidarity to the protesting students, Sarmistha Dutta Gupta, who spoke on behalf of Maitree said, “We are shocked to see the attack being officially defended saying that the students were ‘mostly backed by extreme-Left outfits.’ Even if it were so, does that justify brutally beating up and molesting students of the university?”
Students from Arts and Engineering faculty of Jadavpur University, protesting against the university authorities for nearly a week, were reportedly roughed up by two groups – a group of policemen and the other, the students alleged belonged to the ruling party. The protesters’ contention was that the complaint of harassment by a female student was not being handled fairly by the University. They were supported by students, individually and those who were affiliated to leftist organizations.
The group, through a communication, had sought to meet the Vice-Chancellor regarding the gender sensitive enquiry on 15 September, Monday, but received no response.
On September 16, Tuesday after the interim VC and the executive council members finished their meeting, the students blocked their exit demanding a meeting on issues related to their protest.
When the students refused to give in by late evening, the police was called in, according to a press release issued by Maitree. Students reportedly saw leaders of the students’ wing and cadres of the ruling party already present in the campus, the release stated.
Meanwhile, representatives of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA), tried to step in and help negotiate between the VC and the students. When that did not work out and the JUTA members left campus around 1.45 am, the police vans moved in. By then most of the journalists covering the event had also left.
After the VC was escorted out of the university, the police began raining blows on the students after lights in the campus were turned off. Another group of men not in uniform also joined the police, the release added.
The police used lathis and dragged some of the protesting students inside vans, while the other group of men heckled and dragged students, particularly the girls, the release stated. The attackers inappropriately touched the girls and tried to rip off their clothes while dragging them, even as policewomen present on the scene looked on, the protesting students alleged.
One of the girls was reportedly dragged into a van where the perpetrators tried to pull off her shirt. Disregarding her protest, she was later taken to Jadavpur police station along with many other students, under the pretext of keeping her in “safe custody”, Maitree stated in the press release.
Though the girl was released shortly afterwards, over 30 other male students were locked up in Lalbazar till late noon on 17 September. Many of them, who sustained injuries during the police brutality, had to be taken to hospital, where five who suffered grievous injuries had to be hospitalized.