#OccupyUGC Kolkata: Protesters Graffiti, Burn Effigy of Smriti Irani
October 28, Kolkata: Students and scholars started gathering around the Chingrighata crossing (beside Jal-Vayu Bhavan) at around 12. There were students from various universities around Kolkata such as ISI, JU, Presidency, Calcutta University, Viswabharati, and Kalyani to name a few. There was one large banner in the front, which said, “We will not accept abolition of the Non-NET fellowship at the MPhil, PhD level”, etc. It was in support of the OccupyUGC movement that is currently ongoing in New Delhi, and which has recently seen a fresh wave of police brutality. The slogans and messages were clear, unambiguous, and multi-linguistic.
The procession of about 50 people (estimated figures) went down the road that runs down the Chingrighata khaal, towards Nicco Park. After about a 15 minute walk, which was accompanied by drums and slogans, it turned left at a foot-bridge, doubled back, and finally reached the Salt Lake Campus of Jadavpur University, where the UGC offices are located. There was a bit of reluctance from the security personnel to let the protestors in, but they gave way quite easily and peacefully. They requested the agitators, however, that not all of them enter the building, which they were happy to follow.
An eight-person team was decided, representing five different institutions: JU, CU, Viswabharati, ISI and Kalyani. They were to take the demands to the officer-in-charge. The document had been circulated earlier, but it was read out afresh for comments and corrections. A few small but significant changes were made. The large group of protestors waited in front of the building, shouting slogans, singing and making music. The banner was carefully propped up behind a few tree-pots. The street, just as it turned into the tiled entrance of the building, has been left with graffiti declaring support for the OccupyUGC movement, and with some pointers as to the basic demands.
A deputation of students was sent upstairs with their list of demands to be presented to the UGC’s officer-in-charge. In the interim period when the delegation was taking place, a small contingent of the CCP (Congress Chatra Parishad) arrived at the office. They proceeded to burn and effigy of Smriti Irani, the current head of the MHRD, and sloganeer along with the gathered group, though they kept their distance. A little while later the deputation returned, and the graffiting of the front of the office was completed and the gathered body dispersed.
Report by Sujaan Mukherjee
All photographs are intellectual property of Siddharth Gabriel Sinha