Students of Left Party organisations attacked Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo when he was at the Jadavpur University for a programme organised by ABVP
The Jadavpur Incident is another feather in the case of the Communist brigade whose meaning of democracy is to eliminate those who do not agree with them
Debjani Bhattacharyya & Jisnu Basu, Kolkata
Incident of September 19 at Jadavpur University (JU) campus was typical of JU. It reminded us of another that happened way back in 1970 when the Ultra-Left Students’ Union of the University called for Examination-boycott. They tried to justify their demand by rhetorically claiming the freedom of India itself to be false, ‘jhuta’, hence, studies & examinations in this country appeared all hoax from their perspective.
A man of principle stood stout against this weird logic & destructive demand of theirs. The legendary professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the then acting Vice Chancellor of JU, Professor Gopal Chandra Sen, a great patron of students, declared examination would be conducted and all those who wanted to appear might do so. Examinations were held & mark-sheets were distributed during Durgapuja Holidays as semester time lapsed due to delay caused by students’ agitation. Ultra-Left brigade took an exception to Professor Sen’s straightforwardness and Rana Basu, an active member of the Union, stabbed him from the back within the University campus in the month of December, that very year. Professor Sen died on spot. Rana Basu managed to escape to Canada utilising the money power of his father who was a doctor. Did Rana commit the heinous crime just by a momentary anger-attack or was he brainwashed and programmed strategically to do it by some human machinery? Was Rana Basu poisoned to be intolerant?
Few days back on September 19, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad organised a Freshers’ Welcome Programme in KP Basu Memorial Hall of Jadavpur University. Ex-Professor of JU’s Department of Bengali, Achintya Biswas was present there as the main speaker to deliver on “Shadhinotan Poroborti Bharotborsher Shasonbyabostha”, i.e. Administration of Post-Independence India. Other speakers were Supreme Court Advocate Dilip Kumar Dubey, Fashion Designer Agnimitra Paul and Vocal Artist Babul Supriyo. Difference of opinion is normal in a democracy. Hence, it’s understandable that ABVP or BJP’s ideology may not be acceptable to some. However, walking-in a University to address its students with prior permission of the university administration is a democratic right. This right, however, was denied by the students’ union at JU by sheer muscle power. By manhandling Babul Supriyo, physically attacking, displaying abrasive and indecent gestures against him, JU students violated norms of democracy as stated in the Constitution of India. The speakers planned to deliver on ‘democratic administration’ in the Freshers’ Welcome Programme which turned into a hoax by the mayhem they created immediately after Babul Supriyo entered the University.
Leftist leaders visit any university of India and are not stopped to do that. They go to deliver even in those universities where Leftists have no footing, where even microscopes can’t find them. Yet they go and no one manhandles them. But the attack against Babul Supriyo in JU was unthinkably obnoxious. Professors and the Vice Chancellor of the University tried to pacify and convince them. The Chancellor arrived himself who’s also the Governor of West Bengal, but couldn’t stop their intolerant outbursts. They were extremely prepared with posters that claimed ABVP/BJP as fascist and demanded Babul Supriyo to apologise. It wasn’t clear why they wanted the Central Minister to apologise and what was his fault? Was being a non-Leftist to enter JU a fault? Since Babul Supriyo couldn’t deliver his speech as they blocked him the moment he entered through Gate No. 3, so neither his speech could be marked objectionable. Hence, no one could clarify why did they want the Minister’s apology. Claiming ABVP/BJP as fascists, they themselves ended up displaying true fascism.
Thinking these atrocious misbehaviours of JU Arts-lobby students to be mere youthful outbursts may be wrong. Assuming that they behaved chaotically just out of childish spree, may be misleading. That they’re being chronically brainwashed to adopt such intolerant thoughts & practices can’t be ruled out because as contemporary students of two different Departments of the Faculty of Engineering & Technology of Jadavpur University, we had witnessed such atrocities even earlier in the past by Leftist Students, as if behaving cruelly & radically was progressive. It was 1992 when we found a few persons of a Leftist Students’ Union were brutally beating a boy in front of JU Central Library. Subsequently they dragged him to the backside of Ashirbad canteen. They were repeatedly kicking him on his belly asking for his college-name. Beaten black and blue, the boy failed to utter almost anything. It was eventually revealed that he was from Vidyasagar College, represented ABVP and was distributing some so called ‘objectionable’ leaflets on the then Ram Mandir Movement. Professor Dhananjay Das saved the boy that day. In VC’s office, Professor Das straightway asked them the real reason behind their cruelty to the outsider boy. Was entering JU from Vidyasagar College an offence or did his leaflets contain any illegal? Silent were they, as silent as they were on being asked why apology from Babul Supriyo. They didn’t have guts to verbally admit that they were intolerant to any difference of opinion.
On May 6, 2016, a group of Engineering faculty students organised the screening of a movie named “Buddha In A Traffick Jam” by Vivek Agnihotri in Professor Triguna Sen Auditorium of Jadavpur University. The movie was approved and released by the censor-board and received a number of national as well as international awards. The Ultra-Left Students' Union pressurised the university authority and the authority finally withdrew the permission of its screening in the auditorium. However, the Engineering faculty undergrad students, undaunted, arranged for its open-air screening in front of Blue Earth Workshop. The intolerant Ultra-Left students’ brigade, failing to spoil the movie's screening altogether, behaved rabid and crazy that day. They manhandled Vivek Agnihotri, spat on him, kicked madly on his car to express their ghastly anger upon him. After that, they recklessly tortured a Professor of Bangabasi College, Debashish Chowdhury who was the mentor of the Students' Organisation, ‘Think India’ which organised the movie-show. False case of molestation was slammed on Professor Chowdhury. The Ultra-Left intolerant brigade was insecure enough to think that people would straightway reject their ideology if they just watch such movies. Moreover, a group of men above-fifty and a senior lady with a microphone in her hand were present in the frontal crowd in JU that night who were perhaps mentoring the young students in the path of intolerant Ultra-Leftism.
Therefore, manhandling of Babul Supriyo too may not be a sudden act of youthful outburst of students. Presence of matured brains behind them like those of the senior brigade visible on May 6, 2016, should not be ignored. There are matured brains who continuously brainwash the young students with ideologies of cruelty and non-acceptance towards any other ideology different from theirs. Their devastating misadventures with young psyche of West Bengal must not be soft-reported or diluted. Such matured brains were the ones who instigated Rana Basu in 1970 to commit the brutal crime against Professor Gopal Sen. Young students like Rana Basu regularly learnt these principles of intolerance and cruelty towards others from those matured mentors in their ‘Party Classes'. It won’t be incorrect to state that Babul's harassment too was programmed by senior people who're integral parts of the whole incident.
In addition to them, media of Bengal too plays a vital role in growing such intolerant and blindly partial attitude in young people of JU and some other prime institutes. Instead of reporting the issues dispassionately, they turn and twist facts in ways that bring them their targeted TRP. Instead of calling spade a spade, they often cover up typical nuisances for their gain. Former VC of JU, Abhijit Chakraborty, once tried to handle a similar students' agitation with strong hands calling the police to intervene inside the campus. Students' agitation gained greater momentum after that and Bengal media along with the political ecosystem added fuel to it painting Chakraborty a pure villain. Professor Chakraborty had to compromise and resign.
It may be relevant to mention here that there’s a famous poem by Rabindranath Tagore, titled ‘Gandharir Abedon', where Gandhari appealed to Dhritarashtra that as Duryodhan was relishing the taste of a poisonous fruit, his father needed to snatch and throw it away from him. Gandhari kind of reprimanded even her husband for being supportive to Duryodhan's all illegitimate demands out of jealousy towards Pandavas. She pointed out that such demands of Duryodhan, if fulfilled, would lead to his own destruction. Professor Gopal Chandra Sen was one who had the guts & good intentions of not supporting illegitimate demands of his students. In return, one of his students stabbed him from the back. Though we won’t be able to recover that loss ever, we must at least try to hold Prof. Sen's flag high up.
On September 19, the crowd that attacked Babul Supriyo, perhaps had a very few limited number of students who got truly influenced by intolerant Ultra-Left ideologies. Most other students must have gathered for various other petty reasons. Some of them perhaps appeared out of fellow-feeling, some others out of a sense of belongingness or out of fear of being detached from friends or for not to be marked as unprogressive and so on. The psyche of such students are still not beyond rectification and need to be protected from preachers of intolerance at the earliest.
The spineless administration of the university was the other major factor that indirectly facilitated such erratic behaviour of the students. In spite of the Chancellor’s advice, the VC refused to call the police inside the campus. Perhaps to save his own progressive and student-soft image, the VC compromised with his administrative accountability. The Chancellor and the Governor of West Bengal also called up the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, Malay De & was dissatisfied by his response. The administration of not only the University but also the State of West Bengal lacked strength of legitimacy.
For thousands of ex-students like us, JU is our auspicious Alma Mater. It is a pious place of learning and exposure. As students of Engineering and Technology starting right from graduation till Ph.D, we have seen Professors of outstanding abilities, divine personalities and of academic excellence. We learnt from them and delivered in the corresponding fields in later life. We feel proud being JU alumni and are also proud that JU students have excelled all over the globe in various fields of operations. However, the recent incidents of JU are quite alarming. Creating incessant political unrest and radicalisation of students' thoughts in the name of revolution, is the most effective way to destroy an Educational Institution as well as a society. As JU is being targeted by preachers of intolerance, the objective of formation of National Council of Education is being futile. It was established by people of Eminence like Rishi Aurobindo for culminating collective and cumulative erudite excellence. Did they ever imagine this forceful imposition of ideologies by sheer muscle power in JU premises?
We must not forget that JU belongs to all. It’s a national Institution. The Ultra-Left Political Ideology somehow won the students’ union slection here didn’t mean the university belonged exclusively to them. Everyone who teaches or serves here has right over it. The university belongs to every professor, student, researcher, associate, alumni and all others who work here. The tea-man Ali'da who served tea in the Department of Production Engineering, Bijon'da, the mechanic in Blue Earth workshop, Milan'da (who’s no more) who ran his famous canteen beside The Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, the people who come to study in the University Library from outside, the Industry-men who come to use our laboratories, are all integral parts of JU. Democratically, JU also belongs to those poor men who perhaps couldn’t send their children to study here as yet. One of the prime Universities of India, Jadavpur belongs to those poor students too who bear a lot of hardships to come and study here. They must get an environment suitable for academic pursuits free from tantrums of the students’ union. Nobody must think JU to be their exclusive ground. Exclusivity contradicts democracy. So does Ultra-Leftism. Their gesture of blocking Babul Supriyo by muscle power has proven them anti-democratic.
It’s time to protest against strategic Ultra-Left intolerance in JU which once claimed the life of Professor Gopal Chandra Sen on the pious ground of our Alma Mater. We must acquire strength to carry forward his legacy. Must we not forget he showed the courage of snatching away the poison of Ultra-leftism from his dear students.