KOLKATA: Union Minister Babul Supriyo was allegedly heckled, shoved and kept confined for over four hours on Thursday at Jadavpur University by a section of Left-leaning students after he had gone to address a seminar organised by the BJP’s students wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). It prompted West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to rush to JU along with a large police force.
The governor too faced demonstrations by the students belonging to SFI, Left-leaning AFSU and FETSU and AISA, the student wing of the Communist Party of India Liberation (CPI-ML), and a few members of the TMCP (the All India Trinamool Student Congress).
Jagdeep Dhankhar arrived at the university campus at around 7 pm to rescue the union minister for environment, forest and climate change. Dhankhar tried to enter the campus through Gate no 4 but the entrance was blocked by the students and his car had to take a detour via Gate no 3.
Once inside the campus, Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also chancellor of the university, managed to get the Asansol MP into his vehicle and tried to leave the place. However, the protesting students blocked the road and continued demonstrating in front of the Governor’s car.
The Governor and the MP could leave the campus only around 8:10 pm after reinforcements from CRPF headquarters in Salt Lake arrived.
Dhankhar had reportedly also called up Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Chief Secretary Malay Kumar De asking them to take prompt action to rescue Supriyo.
AFSU leader Debraj Debnath, who participated in the protest, asserted that "fascist forces" will not be allowed in the campus. "We will not let BJP, RSS or ABVP to spread their ideology in a liberal institute like JU," he said and maintained that Babul Supriyo had misbehaved with the agitating students, many of whom were women.
How it all began
The trouble started when Supriyo arrived at the campus at 2:30 in the afternoon to address the seminar by ABVP.
The Union Minister who was accompanied by Agnimitra Paul, a BJP leader, was initially stopped from entering and was left waiting just inside the gate for around one-and-half hours by the Left students' unions, who raised slogans 'Babul Supriyo Go Back' and waved black flags at him, varsity sources said.
Supriyo was allegedly shoved by students who asked him to leave the campus. "My shirt was torn. I was pulled by my hair. I fell on the ground. Some of the students identified themselves as Naxals," the Asansol MP claimed.
He told the agitating students, "You people are trying to provoke me by creating commotion. But you cannot drive me out. Till the time you calm down, I will not go." The Union Minister then managed to enter the auditorium where he was kept confined for over four hours.
As he prepared to leave after attending the seminar, he faced demonstration by the students again and was stopped. At one point, he was seen sitting on the bonnet of his car and arguing with the agitating students and gesturing at them as they booed at him.
He said he was not intimidated by their actions. "I did not come here to do politics. But I am saddened at the absolutely deplorable behaviour of some of the students of the university - the way they have heckled me, " Supriyo said.
The JU Vice-chancellor Suranjan Das fell sick during the agitation and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
ABVP students go on rampage
Meanwhile, stick-wielding supporters of ABVP, who had held a seminar in the campus during the day which sparked off the unrest at the university, vandalised the room of the Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU).
Shouting 'Jai Shree Ram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', the ABVP supporters were seen setting fire to furniture, computers and ceiling fans of the room and covering the signage outside it with black colour.
"Gherao of Union Minister Babul Supriyo is adverse reflection on law & force agency in the state," says #WestBengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. Asks WB Chief Secretary to take prompt action in gherao of #BabulSupriyo by Jadavpur University students.— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) September 19, 2019
The Governor's office issued a statement condemning the incident: "With respect to the gherao of Union Minister Shri Babul Supriyo by a section of students, the Governor of the State of West Bengal Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar has taken a very serious view and has spoken to the Chief Secretary, West Bengal, Shri Malay Kumar De, who has indicated that a prompt direction is being issued to the Commissioner of Police earlier. The Governor spoke to the VC and indicated to him that it was improper for him not to have taken prompt steps in the matter, that can lead to unwholesome results. The Chief Secretary was sounded only after speaking with the VC. The Governor takes the incident very seriously as it involves unlawful detention of a Union Minister and this is a very serious reflection on the law and order of the State and on the conduct of the law enforcing agencies,’’ the statement said.
(With PTI inputs)