Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners(WB Branch)
Press Statement — 17 September, 2014
We are deeply shocked at the police action last night against the students who were on a peaceful sit-in demonstration inside Jadavpur University campus. For the last few days, students of Jadavpur University have been protesting against the way JU administration has been handling the issue of the alleged molestation of a girl student inside the campus during fest on 28 August. One lady member of the Internal Complaints Committee(ICC) probing into it reportedly asked objectionable questions to the victim which was condemned by the agitating students. They demanded the removal of two lady members from the team and inclusion of two external juries in the probe team comprising a lawyer and a psychologist—a demand that was turned down by Mr. Abhijit Chakraborty, the interim Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University. Instead, the JU authorities released a ‘code of conduct’ and declared the formation of a new group meant for surveillance inside the campus. This infuriated the students and the sit-in-demonstration was converted into a gherao of the members when the meeting of the JU Executive Council(EC) was on. It is reported that although some members of the EC were against police intervention, the interim Vice- Chancellor sought police action to break the demonstration and lift the gherao. Many teachers, who had been mediating between the students and the authorities, told the Vice Chancellor not to bring police inside as that would deteriorate the situation further. However, the interim Vice Chancellor remained adamant in his stand. Thus a huge police force entered the Jadavpur University campus at the call of the interim Vice Chancellor after mid-night on 17th September 2014, and a large number of students—boys and girls–were beaten up by the police and some unidentified plainclothes-men with batons to break a peaceful sit-in demonstration. More than thirty students were wounded, girls were manhandled by the baton-wielding force and there were no police women in the team. About thirty five students including one girl student were arrested and taken to the police station. That reminds us of the police action in 2005 on hunger-striker students under the previous Buddhadev-regime.
The whole episode shows not just the total isolation of the JU authorities from the student community but also betrays the total inefficiency of the administration in dealing with agitating students. A few years back, a number of teachers of Jadavpur University issued a statement stating that JU had become a police university in view of the presence of so many plain clothes policemen/women round-the-clock within the campus; the latest JU decision to form a separate surveillance group only shows how serious the situation has become and how human rights are being trampled regularly and free speech and movement curbed. We strongly condemn this police action in JU on 17th September 2014 and demand the immediate release of the arrested students. We also demand the immediate withdrawal of all police forces and intelligence officials in plainclothes from the campus.
Secretary General, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners(CRPP)
Convenor, CRPP, West Bengal Branch