Union Minister Babul Supriyo heckled, roughed up at Jadavpur University

Published : September 20, 2019 20:14 IST

Union Minister Babul Supriyo and students get into a fracas at Jadavpur University in Kolkata on September 19. Photo: Utpal Sarkar/ANI

Jadavpur University in Kolkata was on the boil after Union Minister Babul Supriyo was assaulted by a section of protesting students when he had gone to the university campus to attend a programme. On September 19, when Supriyo, at the invitation of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student’s wing of the RSS, entered the university campus, he was met with a strong protest by apparently Left leaning students, who refused to let him into the campus.

According to the students, they would not allow a person representing a “fascist” force that supports the National Register of Citizens (NRC) into their college campus. In the scuffle that followed, Supriyo was apparently physically assaulted by some of the students and his shirt was torn. “Debate the matter if you want, but why are you hitting me,” Supriyo, the BJP MP from Asansol, was heard saying. The BJP leader and fashion designer Agnimitra Paul, who accompanied Supriyo, claimed that she was heckled by the protesters.

Supriyo finally managed to enter the venue of the ABVP programme after nearly an hour of heated exchanges with the protesters. However, the matter did not end there. After delivering his speech, when he was exiting the venue, the Minister found himself face to face with an even bigger crowd of protesting students.

Governor to the rescue

With Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das refusing to call the police and Supriyo caught amidst hundreds of irate students who were demanding an apology for the high-handed behavior of the Minister’s security guards, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar arrived at the gates of the university to extricate Supriyo. Even Dhankar, at first, had to turn back when a strong group of students refused to let him pass. Finally, with security personnel managing to clear a passage for him, the Governor took Supriyo to the safety of his car. However, the drama continued for another hour as the car was surrounded by protesters. Even as the Governor’s car remained stuck inside the campus, outside suspected Sangh Parivar supporters went on a rampage amid shouts of “Jai Shri Ram”. They found a way to enter the campus and ransacked the union rooms, defaced walls and damaged ceiling fans and furniture.

War of words

The State government was apparently peeved at the Governor’s actions. “It is most unfortunate and shocking that the Governor… without informing the elected government went to the so-called rescue of the BJP leader from Jadavpur University…. On his way he rang up the C.M. (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) and the C.M. requested him several times that the Governor being the constitutional head need not go at the moment,” said State Education Minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee in a statement. According to him, the Governor’s action was designed to “help the BJP”.

The following day a statement from Raj Bhavan read, “It is unfortunate that the Secretary General of the All India Trinamool Congress, through a press release yesterday has stated that the Governor did not inform the government and has not taken the State government into confidence before making a visit. He obviously did not know of the developments that took place between the Governor and the DGP/CS (Director General of Police/Chief Secretary) and also the conversation with the Hon’ble Chief Minister”. The statement also spoke of the “serious lapses by the University V.C., including virtual abandonment of his obligations, and apparent failure of the State Police Administration in attending to the situations appropriately and inadequate security arrangements for the Governor/Chancellor during his visit…”.