black-square1

#hokkolorob :A timeline of events leading up to the police brutality, and a highlight of the focus of the movement

Owing to messages alleging that the focus of the movement at Jadavpur University has been shifted, here is a recap of the original event which sparked the movement, with a timeline of the developments. These will hopefully clarify the intent of the movement, i.e. the demand for a fair investigation into the case of the student’s molestation on campus, as well as justice for the victims of police violence on the night of Sept.17, for which, the Vice-Chancellor of the university is responsible, and whose resignation is immediately asked for. 

 

August 28: A student of Jadavpur University and her boyfriend were at the receiving end of an episode of extreme violence. At around 7.45-8pm, the victim was present on campus along with her friends to be a part of the ongoing fest. There were no available bathrooms around and she went to a dark corner of the campus to do the needful and her boyfriend went with her to be on the lookout. While she and her boyfriend were on their way back, a group of young men (allegedly hostel members) approached them and passed comments about them which she deemed objectionable. This led to some pushing and shoving from both sides. When she tried calling her close friend for help, her phone was taken away. When the argument escalated further, her boyfriend was taken away to another spot (which was unknown to her) and then apparently beaten up too as she was dragged into one of the rooms of the New Block Boy’s Hostel. All this happened while the Superintendent was present in that scene.She was locked in a room full of men who she claims were extremely drunk.They touched her inappropriately and pushed her around. They tried to force her to drink an unknown fluid but she put up a fight and refused to do so. She screamed tirelessly, but nobody came to help her out. When she tried opening the lock her fingers were bent back and she was tortured for several minutes. She put together the remnant strength in her system and managed to get out of the room. As she kept running, some of the boys followed her and this ordeal continued till she met someone who she had earlier tried calling for help.Seeing this guy, the perpetrators fled and the girl was in tremendous shock thereafter.

 

August 29: The student informs the college authorities about the incident and registers a complaint with the police. The police  starts an investigation under sections 354 (criminal assault on a woman to outrage her modesty) and 379 (theft) of the IPC against the accused. No arrests have been made so far.

 

September 2: After several attempts, the VC agrees to meet her and her father. He says that he would require at least 15 days to set up an investigation committee and advised her to not come to college for a few days. “Hostel Super didn’t interfere because otherwise the hostel boys would beat him up severely”, he said against the interference of the superintendent. No information was provided to her about the existence of the sexual harassment cell or the kind of action the body can undertake to provide justice to the victim, irrespective of the VC’s opinions. She lodges an FIR,but the police state that they would be unable to investigate matters without the VC’s approval, who is out of station. After serious efforts, she was able to get in touch with certain previous and current members of the harassment cell and advised the students to submit an official written complaint as soon as possible.

 

September 3: A general body meeting is held. A charter of demands is drawn up. Along with this, the victim herself has submitted a letter to the ICC, which the internal investigative council will look into. The Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell will continue its own procedures.

Charter of Demands
Charter of Demands (contd.)

These are the agreed points of the agenda that have been put forward as a bannerless collective of students of Jadavpur University. This has been submitted to the Dean of Students and CC-d to other bodies concerned. A fair and immediate neutral investigation of the event and justice for the affected party is demanded.

 

September 4: A GB meeting is held at Worldview. Almost a hundred (or more) people discuss various conflicting versions of the story over a period of two or more hours. In spite of various passionate arguments, everybody present, agrees that an investigation should begin as soon as possible and we are not going to wait for results, indefinitely.An official complaint has already been lodged by the victim and her family. Along with that, the general body of students articulated their demands with a deputation comprising about 40 people who visit the Dean of Students at 6.pm. Their demand primarily centres around formation of an independent investigation committee comprising a retired judge, witnesses from both sides, a psychologist, a member of Women’s Rights Commission among others.They have also demanded that the hostel super who was present on that day (according to both sides) issue a public statement about the entire incident. The VC also has to explain why he didn’t tell the student about the Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell, why she was advised to stay out of college premises and why he stated that he would require at least 15 days to set up a committee.
The Times of India wrote: ‘Acting on a letter submitted by the father of the girl molested inside the boys’ hostel, the Jadavpur University authorities on Wednesday ordered an internal inquiry.
The father had lodged a police complaint a day before.”My daughter is traumatized. I have asked her to stay at home for a few days. I have made a written complaint to the vice-chancellor and I am happy with his response,” the father said.
When asked why he didn’t approach the vice-chancellor before lodging a police complaint, he said: “I took my daughter to the VC to make a complaint. He was then leaving for Delhi. He told me to come after he is back in two days.”
The incident has shaken up all quarters of the university. Students from all faculties assembled at Hirak Jayanti Bhawan on Wednesday demanding an independent probe into the incident. A JUTA delegation also called on the VC to express their concern.Some questions have cropped up amid discussions on the campus. The victim is learnt to have confided to her seniors that some boys of the PG (Old) Boys’ Hostel near the Open Air Theatre (OAT) had forcibly taken her to the guest room on the ground floor.When asked if they dragged her from the OAT, the victim told them that she had come out of the OAT accompanied by her boyfriend, who was invited to judge a music competition, when some boys accosted him. When she came to his rescue, the boys abused her, touched her “indecently” and forcibly took her to the guest room of the boy’s hostel. The victim alleged that they snatched her cellphone while she was trying to make calls to her friends. They even tried to pour a “liquid” into her mouth. They got furious when she refused it and started abusing her. The girl then managed to run for life.The victim also complained that everything happened in front of the hostel superintendent. When asked about it, JU vice-chancellor Abhijeet Chakrabarty said: “This is an internal administrative matter. I will not comment,” he said.
Education minister Partha Chatterjee said that the government has taken up the complaint with all seriousness. “I have asked the JU VC to hold an independent inquiry and find out facts,” Chatterjee said.’

 

September 5: As the victim of the events on the night of 28th August has identified four people in connection with the alleged violence that took place on that night, prima facie arrests can be made on the basis of an FIR. The only thing that prevents this is the Jadavpur University Act, 1956 which protects students until the Vice Chancellor gives their permission to the police to carry out the arrests.The Vice Chancellor had given his permission on Wednesday.
No arrests have been made yet even though the victim has mentioned two persons in her FIR and has identified two persons from pictures.
After the protest march to the VC which started around 1.40 pm called by the Arts Faculty Students Union, AFSU agreed to a common protest march from Worldview to Jadavpur Thana at 4pm.and merged forces  to march to Jadavpur Police Station at 4 pm to demand answers from the police about why no ‘prima facie’ arrests have been made. From this combined march, a four-member team met the officials at Jadavpur Police Station and presented their set of demands.

 

September 6: The victim lodges a General Diary on the 6th of September in addition to the FIR that has already been registered with the police.The subject of this General Diary is harassment by ‘two women of Jadavpur University’. The victim alleges that on the evening of 5th September, two women visited her house, without any prior notice, saying that they were representatives of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell but refused to give up their names to her or her mother, who was also there and is named as a witness to the incident in the GD.
The victim further alleges that the two women asked her questions about the nature of her clothing on the night of the 28th in an ‘interrogation’ that lasted for half an hour. At the end of the ‘interrogation’, they apparently stated that this particular incident had brought great ‘shame’ upon the University and further added that if any investigation brought about any ‘change’ in the current ‘atmosphere’ of the University, that too would be very shameful.The two women claim to have been representing the Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell.

 

September 7: Details of the “interrogation” are released. Members of the Jadavpur University internal investigation cell grilled the victim on what she was wearing, if she drinks, what she was doing with her friend, when she was attacked, dragged, beaten up & molested. They threatened that in light of this incident if rules are tightened on the entry of ‘outsiders’ in the campus, then it’s the victim who would be blamed for such ‘stricter laws’. [The full statement may be found here: https://www.facebook.com/studentsagainstcampusviolence/posts/352111704964427 ; and the official news report may be found here: https://www.facebook.com/AIPWABengal/photos/a.291769064306445.1073741828.290089867807698/372560342893983/?type=1&permPage=1 ].

 

September 8: Rally from Worldview to the Office of the Dean of Students.
The demands are: 1) Apart from the ICC, the formation of a separate committee, consisting of a retired judge, an experienced gender activist, and so on is demanded. On Wednesday, the Dean of Students had accepted the deputation, and had promised to forward it to the VC as soon as possible. Why has there subsequently been no news on the demands made on Wednesday? 2) The victim had lodged a GD stating that two professors had gone to her without giving her prior notice, nor had they revealed their identities. Apart from giving her ‘reassurances’, they asked her questions about her clothing, behaviour, and other such highly objectionable things. A Public Statement in that regard is also demanded.
The General Secretary of the AFSU (who was officially a member of the ICC) has resigned, because she had noticed clear biases in the Committee members: some members were convinced about which events were true, and which ones weren’t, even before conducting a proper investigation(!), and this was the main reason the GS felt it was necessary to resign.
The delegation decides to not leave without an answer from the ICC members/VC/Pro-VC. Over 150 people stand outside the VC’s office and slogans are raised for hours, but no talks initiated by the members of the Authority. At one point, body-guards were sent out along with ICC members, and they attempted to leave without giving any statements whatsoever. Students barricaded the way, resulting in the body-guards hitting some of the students, but the students do not resort to violence – they merely block their way.
Soon after this, four representatives are called to the Registrar’s office and (at the end of a lengthy discussion) it is decided that only 3 members would be sent in to talk to the authorities. On going in, it was noticed that only 3 people were sitting inside (which incidentally did not include either of the two professors who allegedly made the comments). Once again, a lengthy meeting ensued, and it was learnt that the visit was something the ICC was aware of. They intent, they said, was to provide “moral support” to the victim, and stated that they were not willing to go into any further discussions about the allegations made by the girl in the GD – rather, they would continue their investigation as before, completely ignoring the GD complaint. They further denied that any such derogatory comment was made, but said the girl had the ‘right’ to file a GD anyway. They were unavailable to come up with clear concrete answers when asked the following questions: 1) Why did the two people not disclose their names, nor show any identity proof? 2) Why was there no prior notice about this visit?

 

September 9: A general body meeting is held at Worldview, 3:30pm onwards.”
A letter drafted in it, addressing the claims made by a Professor Sarbani Ganguly in the bengali daily ‘Ei Shomoy’ that she was physically assaulted by the students in yesterday’s meeting…
“Most respected Ma’am,

On 8th September, we the students of Jadavpur University congregated outside the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding a public statement about an unauthorized visit to the victim’s house by you and Professor Oishika Chakraborty claiming to represent university authority. A General Diary (GD) had been lodged by the victim regarding this unannounced visit, and the certain objectionable comments regarding her clothing which were consequently made. 
We read the news report published on the 9th of September in the Bengali daily ‘Ei Samay’. The ‘Ei Samay’ report quoted you saying that you were physically assaulted (kicked, slapped, punched and throttled) when you tried to leave the meeting. 
However, when you had left the meeting, you had come to the collapsible gate and had asked the agitating students whether you could leave or not. Upon being told that we would like a public statement before you left regarding the events detailed in the GD, you went back inside. After some time, eight to ten men (not university guards) emerged to form a safe passage for you by pushing, punching and kicking aside students without a single word! The women among us formed a human barrier hoping that these men would not raise their hands against university students outside the office of the Vice-Chancellor. 
Nevertheless several students (both male and female) were assaulted by these unidentified men, even though we did not initiate the violence. Several among us suffered bodily harm and some female students were punched repeatedly by these men. We assert that we did not physically assault you in any way whatsoever, despite facing an unprovoked attack ourselves.
We object to the claim that we initiated violence, when in fact we tried to end it. Our claim, corroborated by several eyewitnesses, can be backed up by the CCTV footage, which we demand be made public. Without this footage, accusations of direct assault cannot be substantiated. We wish it to remain on record that you did not provide the public statement we had come to get, and therefore our efforts to ensure a free and unbiased investigation into the on-campus incident will continue. 
We, the students will keep fighting for justice. Any one who attempts to blame/shame the victim will face the bitterest of criticisms. Brute force and slander may be used against us, but the conscience of the people will remain untouched and we shall continue to strive for justice.

Yours faithfully, 

The General Students of Jadavpur University, who are fighting for one of their own with everything they have against whatever you’re throwing at us.”

 

September 10:  According to Anandabazar Patrika TMCP leader Shankudeb Panda had drafted a deputation to our Vice Chancellor asking him to set up an investigation committee and ensure severe punishment for the miscreants who beat up members of the authority. The Vice Chancellor has said that it’s an extremely important issue and they are going to hold a meeting to discuss the necessity of the committee today. He informed the students that the girl’s case would be brought up in zero hour during the EC meeting on the 16th. In response to this, a letter asking for an emergency EC meeting on the 12th is drafted and sent in by the 11th morning.
The students condemn this unleashing of State violence and maintain that they did not partake in any violent measures and ask the Authorities to make the CCTV footage public.
The Telegraph (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140910/jsp/calcutta/story_18818710.jsp#.VA_OqZTLenk) mis-reports on the incident, bringing all the supporters of this movement under the umbrella term ‘SFI supporters’.

In response, the students decide to not gherao anyone, not obstruct anyone’s movements, and instead engage in peaceful protest through music.

Later, the students are  informed that Shankudev Panda, the TMC Chhatra Parishad Leader, is supposedly waiting with a group of men at Jadavpur Thana, possibly to disrupt/force to stop the non-violent indefinite sit-in the general students are participating in before Aurobindo Bhavan. Shankudev Panda is the same person who apparently submitted a deputation to the VC at Jadavpur University to instigate the authorities for immediate action against students for ‘molesting an ICC member’. Forces from WB Police enter the campus. For video of the police on campus, click here.

The indefinite sit-in against authorities inaction continues.The Police leave following their inability to produce any written document accounting for their presence in the University campus.

 

September 11: The VC asks for time till the 16th to consider the ‘legal possibility’ of an independent investigative organization. He tells the students that it was ‘not his job’ to address the general student body nor to make any explanations or statements about his behaviour with the victims. He makes the following statements:
a) The VC said that his job is not to talk to agitating students, or to respond to them, and said that he is not paid to do this.
b) The VC has said that this is not a public issue but a legal issue.
c) The VC has blamed the incident on his permission to have a fest on campus.
d) The VC says that he will be forced to call upon the full force of the state if the peaceful agitation is continued.
Videos of the non-violent protest are shared:
* Not a Gherao
* Not a Gherao 2
* Why are we here?

 

September 12: A General Body meeting is held at 1:40 p.m. at Worldview, to demand that the independent investigative committee be instituted immediately. The sit-in demonstration continues.The VC invites the 2 members from all ‘political parties’ on campus for a discussion about the ‘discipline’ on campus. The organisations decide to not go as representatives of the respective political organisations, but as representatives of the general students of Jadavpur University in light of the movement. When they arrive, they find that TMCP has sent 5 representatives instead of 2, and upon protesting this, the VC refuses to listen. The delegation then brings up the molestation case but the VC argues that the meeting was not called for that, and also stated that certain new measures for discipline which will be soon enforced upon review on the 16th.

An audio drama is showcased at 3 pm and a screening of the documentary ‘Izzatnagar ki Asabhya Betiyaan’ at 5 pm. For a photo story of events , click here.

 

September 13: Protests continue outside Aurobindo Bhavan. The VC walks in along with his staff, every morning and refuses to issue a statement or meet any of the demands. 61 hours have passed.

 

September 14: The 5th night of the sit in. At 4.30pm ‘Izzatnagar ki asabhya betiyaan.’ is screened and a concert is held from 7pm.

 

September 15:  A general Body meeting is held outside Aurobindo Bhavan at 1:30pm. A four-member delegation from FETSU meets the VC, in order to push forward the demands for a fair and thorough investigation into the incidents of 28th August, in solidarity with the movement. During the meeting, the VC said the following to the delegation: “Ami na thakle police doshjon student ke arrest kore nito. Sei jayga ta tomra dekhle na”. [If I had not been present, the police would have arrested 10 students. You students are not considering this angle].The FETSU delegation issues a statement saying that they are in complete solidarity with the movement. They refuse to ‘protect’ and ‘shield’ anyone, and will do everything possible to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out.

 

September 16/17: The sit-in continues. 4 new surveillance measures are introduced through the EC, and the students are informed that if they are unable to hold a peaceful protest, police intervention will be called upon.The Student Body clarifies that it is a strictly independent non-violent protest against injustice, aimed at ensuring a fair and thorough investigation into the incidents of the 28th of August, and to ensure that measures are taken to prevent such crimes from occurring again.They state that any statements/actions that attempt to ‘politicize’ or appropriate this movement in the name of some larger organization or party are not representative of the movement, and are strongly condemned by the members of the movement.The sit-in is non-violent; for photo documentation of the protest before the police arrive click here.

 

September 17: For a timeline of events from the arrival of the police as well as video documentation of police brutality, click here and here. In the aftermath of the incident, a rally of 5000  are organised who march from Jadavpur University till Golpark.

 

September 18: Another rally is organised of 10,000 protestors who march from Jadavpur University till Prince Anwar Shah Road. For a video of the rally, click here. For a report on further student assaults and developments, click here.

 

September 20: Rally from Nandan to Rajbhavan. About 1,10,000 people show up to participate and express their solidarity with the movement. The rally was held in order to submit a deputation to the Honourable Governor of West Bengal (who is the de facto Chancellor of Jadavpur University), informing him of the sequence of events from the 28th of August to the 17th of September 2014, and asking him to take action against the VC for his condemnable role in bringing about the police brutalities. [The full letter is publicly available here:http://www.scribd.com/doc/240347761/Letter-to-the-Chancellor-to-be-given-today-after-the-Grand-Rally-Nandan-to-Rajbhavan-20-9-2014]. Following the massive rally, a 7 member delegation went in to meet the Governer with the deputation. The Governer not only carefully read the deputation before the delegation, but engaged in a one-and-a-half hour dialogue with the delegation

Following this discussion, he stated the following:
1) He expressed his agreement with the demand for a fair and thorough investigation that will strictly punish those guilty of the crimes committed on 28th August 2014. He is considering reconstructing and reforming the Investigative Committee, using the full power that his office bears.
2) He ensured that those responsible for the police violence on the 17th of September will be brought to justice. He has further promised to issue an executive order to withdraw all cases that may be filed against those who were illegally forced to sign a blank Arrest Memo by the police on the night/early morning of the 17th of September 2014.
3) He promised to support the struggle to restore peace to the campus, and prevent any further instances of state-sponsored violence occurring in the campus again.