Jadavpur University resists ABVP hooliganism with film screenings, 1500-strong rally
Universities across the country are being faced with the crisis of right-wing fundamentalism, who attempt to propagate the saffronizing educational agenda by circulating doctored videos and false information about students. The Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi and the Hyderabad Central University have recently faced the kind of RSS/ABVP vandalism that is now being used to target the Jadavpur University of Calcutta, in order to disrupt the healthy political atmosphere on campus.
The recent scuffle between the students supporting the RSS and the left leaning students broke out over the row of the screening of the film “Buddha In A Traffic Jam”. The students supporting the ABVP had sought the permission for the screening of the film at the TrigunaSen Memorial auditorium which was not granted, as a result of which the,film was screened in open air at the playground, without any interruption. It was also planned that the director of the film VivekAgnihotri and lead actorAnupamKher would be in attendance.
The students of Jadavpur University had anticipated a potentially violent situation once they learnt about the screening of the film,believing that the decision to screen the film wasanother conspiracy that will make JU accessible to fascists who already have the backing of the state: They are a parasitic breed who look for new places to thrive and thus target universities as a breeding ground where they can effectively continue their political propaganda of bringing about polarisation between students and stirring up political unrest.
This is why a counterprotest was organised on the 6th of May which was called “Rise Against Fascism”. On the facebook event page the details of the movement were as follows: “The campus is supposedly getting a dosage of ‘nationalism’ tomorrow. The supporters of Gujarat carnage, the supporters of Babri Masjid demolition, the advocates of communal violence will be screening “Buddha in a Traffic Jam” to teach us patriotism. News is around that tomorrow’s program might be ‘graced’ by the presence of AnupamKher who, in the last one year, has proven himself to be the ‘celebrity’ campaign face of corporate fascism with the repeated attacks he has unleashed on all those who have had a different opinion to express from that of the Hindutva fascists of our country.The student community of our university has recently resisted an attempt of the SanghParivar,in the name of the ABVP,[in February] to attack our campus. We must remember the resistance shown on that day and follow its indefatigable spirit. As a result, the onus lies on us to thwart the attempts of communal polarisation and national jingoistic rhetoric which, if allowed to grow, invariably leads to fascist mobilisation.We, therefore, urge everyone to gather at the Science-Arts More tomorrow at 3 p.m. to protest against such deliberately divisive propaganda”.
As expected, the RSS staged a protest at 8B more around 4 in the evening and marched from Gate Number 1 till Gate No 4 of the varsity displaying banners and condemning the university by shouting slogans such as, “JadavpurHaiHai”, as well as their usual “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.Simultaneously, thestudents insidethe campus had carried on their protest by raising slogans: “deshbechnewalonkoekdhakkaaur do”, “the people united, shall always be victorious”, “zarazor se bolo azaadi!”. The RSS eventually entered the campus accompanying the director, VivekAgnihotri. The film was screened without any interruption and about 200 people watched it. The students, being of theopinion that, since we believe in democracy, even a fundamentalist group reservestheir right to freedom of expression, and to screen their film without interruption. However the RSS members who had entered the campus asked the protesting students to leave the playground.
As a journalist, I had walked to the front to take photographs, and was I was directed by an RSS member to leave the ground, even after I revealed that I worked for an independent e-zine. He maintained that only people from the press, in possession of a press card should be allowed to stay but later he changed the statement and said that press card or no press card, no one from the media should be allowed to stay. And this came from someone who is an outsider and not a student of JU. Thus I felt doubly betrayed,because as a student, my status, was the same as every other student who had gathered to condemn the Hindutva crackdown who had no say in whatever was happening in our campus. Secondly, as a journalist of an independent media collective I had no freedom to cover the story.
A parallel screening of “MuzaffarnagarBaaqiHai” was organised by the left leaning students in open air, in front of the Central Library.
However the registrar interrupted the screening of both the films, because both were screened without permission. By that time, the screening of ‘Buddha In a Traffic Jam’was over. After the director had left the campus,the ABVP members commenced their hooliganism, as a result of which students who had formed a human chain were roughed up and women were molested, including a female journalist. The University Registrar filed an FIR against the accused and handed them over to the police. Actress turned politician RoopaGanguly also arrived with her BJP brigade demanding the release of the four accused, stating that they were falselycharged.
The students, who are otherwise accused as “intellectual terrorists”, organised another protest at 5 pm on the 7th of May at the JU playground to oppose and resist saffron terror.
About 1000-1500 people including students from various universities, senior citizens , alumni members were part of the 7.5.16 protest march that started from the campus and covered the entire stretch from Gate No. 4 till the end of Dhakuria flyover.
P.Mukherjee, an alumni of the varsity who was part of the rally stated : “ We will not tolerate the humiliation and molestation on the students and will be prepared for further protest movements against the injustices hurled on us by the state. This is not the first time JU has countered against the violence from the state and from outsiders. I was also a part of the HokKolorob movement and we willalways back JU’s cause.”
What was evident in the protest march organised by the left leaning students was, the more the right wing fundamentalists have triedto impose their doctored theories of nationalism and brainwash young minds and stir up violence, the leftists and the free thinkers have always responded and countered their reaction in the most positive and creative way. The slogans they used,“FascibaadHooshiyaar”(“Fascists, Beware!”), “ProtibaaderLalAgune BJPDauDauJolche,Jolbe , were a great reaction to show how the BJP will never get a position in the university. And the students will never succumb to their framed up views of nationalism.
A senior citizen displayed a banner that read : “ Jaradeshtaakebechediyechen, tara Jodi deshpremihon, taholedeshdrohikara?”(“If those who have sold our country are the patriots, who, then, are the anti-nationals?”).This very powerful statement was the crux of the entire protest rally that happened on the 7th. The students marched with drums and spread the message of revolution in the most creative way possible.The violent reactions of the right wing extremists as opposed to the spirited protest of the youth, showing all the more that the former lacks every sense of responsibility and rationality, and this is the reason they will never be able to stall the freedom of the students.
The students took a resolution to continue the protest against the collective RSS crackdown and to maintain the spirit of solidarity against their carefully crafted conspiracies that aims to shake the very foundation of a healthy political atmosphere in the university.
On the 8th, the ABVP organised a march from Golapark to JadavpurUniveristy campus but the police barricade outside Jadavpur Thana was an effective resistance despite the relentless endeavour of the RSS goons to jump over the barricade and break it.
The RSS has accused theuniversity of being a hub of anti- nationals, and has threatened to chop off the legs of any student who dares to organise rallies condemning their activities.It was also the day of the M.A. entrance tests and the examinees were dispersed safely from Gate numbers 1, 2, and 3 respectively.The situation was normalized once the two truckloads of RSS bhakts , unable to break the barricade, backed out.
Written by Swastisha Mukherjee
Edited by Abhijan Gupta
Image credits Sohel Jiggesshor Abu