#hokkolorob: Diverting attention from the core issue – Molestation
Student politics has been an integral part of the Bengali culture since the days of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Young men like Khudiram, Binoy, Badal and Dinesh gave their lives for the country even before crossing the threshold of 25. Bengal has bled in the 1970s when innocent college students were infamously packed off in encounter killings. “Lorailorailorai chai” is the slogan of the college-activists, “bhengedao, gunriyedao” their motto.
Jadavpur University and Presidency College (now university) have always stood out from the rest in being elitest of all institutes. Getting admission here is not easy and the brightest of minds have walked down these hallowed portals over time. Students here are more equal than the rest of Bengal. But does that mean they are immune from the vices that exist elsewhere? No.
What happened on the night of September 16 was shameful. As an individual and as a human being I would be at a loss of words to describe my angst. But you cannot clap with one hand alone. For every reaction, there is always an action. We know what police is capable of; we have not forgotten 2005. Neither have we forgotten 1971 when students murdered the Vice Chancellor of JU on campus. The debate on the trigger for the action-reaction series can go on and on without ever reaching any conclusion and let us avoid that.
But I refuse to believe only one side of the story. As ruthless and merciless the police force may be, to believe that they arrived on the campus at the dead of the night and attacked a herd of sheep like a pack of hounds would be a grave injustice to reality. I am not saying the students are lying. Neither am I saying the police are messengers of peace. The truth lies somewhere in the middle-ground.
The students produced a video of “police torture”; the cops did too. Some students alleged “outsider goons” of ruling party were present there too (pray, do ruling party cadre wear t-shirts proclaiming their political affinities?). The police alleged several students from other institutes (and known Naxal sympathisers) were in the crowd – which most of these students accepted, as published in a popular Bengali daily. But should we allow the narrative to be stuck with this war of words?
Our attention has successfully been diverted from the main issue – the molestation of a girl on the campus and the demand for justice for her. I am surprised that in the last 3 days I have hardly seen any discussion about her. The students met the Governor of West Bengal today with the demand for VC’s resignation. Is that all?
The victim was allegedly beaten up inside JU hostel by a group of boys, molested and forced to drink alcohol. No one is speaking for her plight. The incident happened on August 26 and till September 8 not one union spoke up (so as not to disturb the status quo in hostels). An internal complaints committee was set up by the VC after media uproar on the incident. Meanwhile the girl filed a FIR with the police.
Surely the FIR named students. The victim identified one of the accused. Why has not a single union, fighting for democracy on the streets of Kolkata, demanded their arrest yet? The students want a fresh probe panel for a “fair probe”; are they afraid one of their own will be exposed?
The JU campus is already muddled in controversies. All that both sides can do is extend a hand of support to the victim. What pricks my heart is the hunch that may be those who violated the girl, walked in Saturday’s Mahamichil against Vice-Chancellor Abhijeet Chakraborty.