Kolkata, Sep 19 : Jadavpur University, a premier educational institute, plunged into unprecedented lawlessness on Thursday, as West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had to rush to rescue Union minister Babul Supriyo – heckled, slapped, punched and detained for hours by radical Left students – but got gheraoed by the protesters while Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists vandalised and set fire to the union room.
Dhankhar, who drove to the university in the evening at the head of a convoy and escorted by a large police force, got Supriyo into his car, but then was stranded for close to an hour on the campus as the radical Left protestors held a sit-in and even lay prostrate before his vehicle.
The police finally managed to drive Dhankhar and Supriyo out of the university by abruptly changing the route of the convoy to take a circuitous way to the Raj Bhavan, ending six-and-a-half hours of unbecoming scenes, seemingly not the best of advertisement for the state.
On the other hand, angry over the treatment meted out to Supriyo and another BJP leader Agnimitra Paul, who latter alleged some demonstrators tried to take off her saree, ABVP activists allegedly went berserk setting afire tyres on the road outside the campus and smashing furniture, tubelights, celign fans, computers and notice boards with sticks and bamboo poles.
The ABVP workers, accompanied by those of the Sangh Parivar’s women’s wing Durga Vahini, also put up blockades on Subodh Chandra Mallick Road and repeatedly tried to force their way into the campus, though they were thwarted by the police.
The trouble began after Supriyo came to the campus to attend a freshers’ welcome programme and address a seminar on National Register of Citizens (NRC) organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Supriyo was heckled and shown black flags by the radicals, and other Left group of students, who shouted slogans and surrounded him asking him to leave the campus.
“Babul Supriyo go back, go back”, the demonstrators chanted in chorus amid slogans of “azadi” as the minister’s bodyguards tried to throw a security ring around him.
With tension rising, vice-chancellor Suranjan Das came to the spot in an effort to cool frayed tempers and prevent any untoward incident.
A large number of students holding red flags crowded around Supriyo, who was pushed and shoved. A student was even seen pulling his hair. Supriyo’s shirt was torn, but despite the jostling, he flatly refused to leave.
“You people are trying to provoke, create a commotion. But you cannot drive me out,” said the minister.
The vice chancellor was seen reasoning with the students, and pleading with Supriyo to come to his chamber.
“Don’t try to touch me. Don’t lay your hand on me. Please try to understand, if you don’t allow any opposition voice, how can there be democracy in the campus?” Supriyo was seen telling the student protestors.
Das took Supriyo to his chamber but when the minister was about to leave the campus the demonstrators turned aggressive again. There were repeated scuffles between the protestors and Supriyo, as a bottle was flung at him, and his spectacles fell to the ground in the commotion.
The demonstrators blocked the gate, saying they were holding a union general body meeting, and the minister can go after it ends. But a little later, one of them demanded apology from the Union minister for badmouthing them.
Supriyo countered: “I don’t want to talk about the abuses they hurled at me. They rained blows, kicked me. If the educated youngsters behave in this way inside the campus, that’s very hurtful and disappointing.
“Even the VC was beaten up before my eyes,” he alleged.
Ridiculing the protestors, Supriyo said: “Those wearing black and red headbands are openly calling themselves Naxalites. These are all new experiences for me”.
Meanwhile, Das apologised to Supriyo, who, however, felt he should have acted early. But the vice chancellor pleaded helplessness, saying “things are not in my control”.
With evening setting in, Supriyo wanted the stalemate to be resolved fast, saying things could go out of hand. He wanted the vice chancellor to call in the police, but Das refused, and said “I would rather resign”.
Meanwhile, according to a Raj Bhavan statement, Dhankhar called up Das and indicated to him that it was “improper” on his part not to have taken “prompt steps” in the matter, that can lead to “unwholesome results”. But Das told him that he won’t call in the police.
Dhankhar then spoke to chief secretary Malay Kumar De, “who indicated that a prompt direction is being issued to the Commissioner of Police”.
A little later, Das and pro-vice chancellor Pradip Kumar Ghosh both complained of uneasiness and were hospitalised.
Taking a serious view of the “unlawful detention” of a Union minister, Dhankhar said in the statement it was a “serious reflection” on the state’s law and order and conduct of law enforcing agencies.