#hokkolorob :Police and TMC violence on protesters @ Jadavpur University
The peaceful and non-violent protests by the students and supporters of Jadavpur University took an ugly turn today when the police and RAF attacked them, resorting to unprovoked and indiscriminate violence upon all the students present at the sit-in outside Aurobindo Bhavan.
Here is a timeline of the events as they transpired:
7:30pm: Members of TMC enter the Jadavpur University campus
8:00pm: TMC goons start harassing the students, physically pushing the protesters and injuring two.
8:45pm: The VC issues an ultimatum stating that either the students evacuate within the next 15 minutes, or else he would use all force necessary to stop them protesting.
9:00pm: TMC, RAF and the police enter campus with tear gas, water cannons and lathis, and threaten students with violence if they resist. The VC refuses to make any statement. The students inform the police force that they will leave if the VC issues an official statement about the investigation into the case. The policemen act as mediators between the authorities and students, and 2 policemen go to meet the VC.
12:00am: Music and peaceful protests continue. More protesters arrive at the venue. A team from Presidency University arrives to aid the protesters as the policemen continue to threaten the students.
1:30am: Police arrive, lash out at the protesters to ensure a safe passage of the VC away from campus.
2:00am: 5 to 6 RAF vans arrive. Here is a first person account of all that transpired-
“ We were at Aurobindo Bhavan, opposite Gate no. 1, singing, when we suddenly see policeman coming towards us. This was around 2am. We got up and started chanting slogans, and fearing an attack, created human barricades(composed of men) to protect the protesters. We saw 5 or 6 RAF cars pull in and park outside Gate No.1. Then the main gate, which is always kept shut, was thrown open and policeman, in khakis, in white uniforms and even civil dressed policeman charged towards us and tried to tear down the human barricade by pulling down the men and beating them up. There were no women police present and we were requesting the police to not harm the women. My friend, Diptokirti Samajdar,who was part of the human barricade was pulled to the ground and beaten repeatedly on the head till he was unconscious. They continued beating him even then so I jumped in to protect him and cover his head. The khaki police retreated as they did not want to harm a woman but the civilian dressed cops dragged me away by the legs. I was crying, but they continued to beat me, hit my head and backbone. Two of the protesters jumped in to save me and got beaten severely. The policemen then started hitting the students, both men and women, on their stomachs, heads and chests. The authorities were present and could see this happening from the other side of the grill. They offered us no help or first aid and refuse to give us water. The police then picked up the protesters, dragged them to the RAF vans and took them away.”
2:20am: The female protesters are molested (they grabbed women by the breasts and tried to drag them away) and assaulted by both TMC goons, policemen and policewomen. They are beaten severely,dragged by the hair,and hit on their chests. The goons try to rip the clothing off their bodies. The students are severely injured. 4 students are arrested. The police hit the students with lathis and helmets.
3:00am: The police take the arrested students to Lalbazar police station. They were beaten bloody, the women have been molested. The arrested include Shounak Mukhopadhyay, Debjan Sengupta, Siddharth Gabriel Sinha, Diptokirti Samajdar, Sudhanya Pal, Sourav Ghosh, Arkapratim Biswas.
3:30am: The number of arrested protesters rises to 26. The remaining students take those who are severely injured to KPC for medical treatment, and then form a barricade outside Jadavpur thana.
4:00am: 36 injured and hospitalized with critical wounds, 40 students arrested. The injured are taken to KPC hospital.
4:40am: News of an RAF raid arrives. The protesters block the road. The students form an emergency group to arrange for water and food supplies and necessary first aid.
5:00am: First aid and water is given to the protesters at the blockade. The RAF is yet to arrive. News is received that one of the protesters, Shibham Ghosh, who was critically injured, is on ventilation.
5:50am: The police inform the protesters that they will be dispersed by force by the RAF if they do not disperse immediately.
6:40pm: The 10 girls who were molested decide to lodge an FIR. Barricade outside Jadavpur Thana disperses to GB at the campus.
1:00pm: Those arrested are released by the police. They return to campus for first aid.
The news of the events were updated in real time on the Facebook Page “Students Against Campus Violence”, and was transmitted through Facebook posts and status updates.Those not present at the venue coordinated to spread the word, ask for help and organize first aid for the protesters. For them it was as traumatic as those at the venue.
Prof Abhijit Gupta addressed his students and expressed his solidarity as soon as news of the events reached him: “Unfortunately, I am out of the country and cannot join my students in solidarity, those who are being beaten by the police and arrested well past midnight. For the last seven days, they had been singing, making music, raising slogans and performing plays in protest at what they perceived to be university inaction/ lack of sensitivity about a matter of great seriousness.
One may or may not agree with them, but unleashing political cadre and the police upon the students is an act of great cowardice on part of the university authorities. Those who have endorsed this act have no business running a place of learning.”
The General Body of students of Jadavpur University organising the protests have asked us to not name the protesters for their safety, while quoting them.
“However insecure the VC and EC may and may not have felt, some basic facts need to be emphasised very very strongly The movement was completely non violent. It had been maintained this way for over a week. What was being asked for, would take no effort to give–a public statement, some reassurance. The hypocrisy of the police has been incredible. From personally assuring us long back that the original accused would be arrested to asap to actually using brutality against a group of unarmed protesters. If the VC feels that he can simply leave a bannerless group of young men and women to the lathis of the police, how dare he ask for cooperation, or even pretend that the students can afford to feel secure on campus. This is horrifying, and I have never felt to vulnerable and impelled to act at the same time.“
“It is of great cowardice on the part of the authority/government that it resorted to use of brutal violence against unarmed students whose only means of protest was posters, slogans and music. Students DID NOT resort to any violent means. The government/authorities might want to accuse us by stereotyping us as the students who cause trouble but that is not true. We have videos of the protest: it was absolutely non-violent in every sense of the term. We were the victims.”
“It was disgusting, it was brutal and barbaric, it was the worst case scenario coming true. And it was all to stamp out a group of peaceful protesters. There can be no words or excuses after this.”
“I think the pivot of our movement was ‘non-violence’.A non-violent resistance to an act of utter apathy on the part of our authorities. But today, we were compelled to deflect our agenda towards a peaceful demonstration and we decided no one would move till the VC sufficed our demands with a public statement. But he deigned to oblige because apparently its ‘beneath his dignity’ to address a mass of ‘undisciplined’ students. Not only did he not give us any insight into whether any action is to be taken on the perpetrators of an allegedly heinous offense but he also resorts to get us beaten, molested and arrested in turn for being audacious enough to voice a protest against his terrible bias.”
“Ruthless state violence unleashed on unarmed students. Molestation by tmc goons and every form of human rights violation possible”
The sentiment and solidarity was not restricted to the university students, as others shared their outrage at the incident:
“I am not a student of JU. But I have been a part of their protest for the past one week. It was a bannerless peaceful protest through various forms of art and music. We were present there even this evening. Now, after hearing what has occurred I am at a complete loss of words. People I have known for years have been beaten up, molested and arrested simply for protesting against a molestation.The entire point behind the protest was that it was a peaceful one. They are simply demanding a straight answer from the VC”
“36 are in custody. More than 30 are injured and hospitalized. A non-violent peaceful sit in protest has brought down to this halt by attacking students with STATE CADRES and even the girls were beaten up brutally inside JU CAMPUS .”
UPDATE: The report published in Metro today morning denied the presence of the RAF accompanied by water cannons, tear gas, failed to mention the police brutality and lathicharge, did not acknowledge the presence of TMC goons on campus who assaulted the students nor offered an update on the arrests of the students arrested and those injured and hospitalized.