West Bengal

Murder on college campus

Print edition : September 04, 2015

In Kolkata on August 8, activists of Chhatra Parishad, the student wing of the Congress, protesting against the killing of a student on campus in West Midnapore district. Photo: Sanjoy Ghosh

THE brutal murder of a student on the campus of a college in Sabong in Pashchim Medinipur district, allegedly by activists of the ruling Trinamool Congress, once again points to the persistent deterioration of the law and order situation in the State and the escalation of violence on educational campuses.

On August 7, Krishna Prasad Jana, 21, a supporter of the Chhatra Parishad (C.P., the student wing of the Congress) of Sabong Sajanikanta Mahavidyalay, was beaten to death on the college campus allegedly by supporters of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) for refusing to participate in the felicitation programme organised for State Water Resources Investigation and Development Minister Soumen Mahapatra. Mahapatra was visiting the region to inspect the flood situation there.

Informed sources said TMCP activists, armed with sticks and iron rods, barged into the college and union room and demanded that all C.P. members take part in the reception organised for Mahapatra. A scuffle ensued when the demand was refused, and Krishna was targeted for being the most vocal about it.

Even though the C.P. dominates the union, its members were helpless in stopping the killing as they were apparently kept locked in the union room. The few who tried to intervene were also beaten up. By the time Krishna was taken to the hospital, he had succumbed to his injuries.

The ruling party was quick to join the opposition parties in condemning the incident but tried to obfuscate the issue by raising questions regarding Krishna’s status as a student of the college. Education Minister Partha Chatterjee expressed “shock and pain” at the incident but also pointed out that Krishna was an “outsider” and wanted to know what he was doing in the college.

Chatterjee’s comments were made in reference to the fact that Krishna had failed the same class twice and thus should have been expelled. He even suggested that Krishna was a victim of faction rivalry within the C.P.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee categorically ruled out any hand of the TMCP. “This is a very unfortunate incident, I condemn it…. I have directed the police to take strong action. Of course, the TMCP is not involved in the attack,” she said. The Pashchim Medinipur Superintendent of Police Bharati Ghosh went further and stated that those accused in the murder of Krishna, including the TMCP activists Sheikh Munna, Shahnawar and Asim Maity, “were not involved in the clash. I repeat, those arrested were not seen in any clash.” This was despite CCTV footage showing the main accused Sheikh Munna engaged in what appears to be an altercation with Krishna. The opposition parties promptly saw the comment as an attempt to shield the culprits. “There should be a departmental inquiry against her [the S.P.]. Even before the investigation had proceeded far enough to reveal anything, she was seen to be proactive in giving protection to the accused rather than assurance to the victim’s family. This is unbecoming of a public servant and, I believe, legally amounts to misconduct,” said Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, former Mayor of Kolkata and eminent lawyer of the Calcutta High Court.

Meanwhile, Krishna’s family decided to move court, seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into his death.

Just two days after the incident at Sabong, the campus of the Raiganj University College in Uttar Dinajpur district became a battlefield during class hours as gun-toting outsiders allegedly hired by the TMCP caused mayhem.

As in Sabong, in Raiganj college, too, it is the C.P. that dominates. The violence is a result of the TMCP’s efforts to wrest control of the college union with an eye to the 2016 Assembly elections.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

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