By Indrajit Kundu
India Today, Kolkata, October 22, 2013 | UPDATED 22:26 IST
KOLKATA: The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) on Tuesday finally came out with its observations on the April 2013 attack on Kolkata's prestigious Presidency University.
In a scathing indictment of the Mamata Banerjee govt, the report blames 'police inaction' for the incident. The report clearly states that the ruling Trinamool Congress students wing TMCP was squarely responsible for the incident and that there was 'no provocation that came from within the University'. It also states that the police inaction was deliberate, as those on rampage belonged to the student wing of the ruling party.
WBHRC in its recommendations has asked the state govt should 'formulate suitable guidelines for dealing with cases of unlawful activities by the students in educational institutions'. In a scathing indictment, the report states that the police's 'failure to discharge duty' had resulted in serious erosion of values and vitiated the atmosphere in many educational institutions of the State.
The WBHRC had taken suo-moto cognizance of the incident that had shocked the entire students' fraternity in the state. The commission had formed a one-member committee headed by former Presidency principal Prof Amal Mukherjee. In his report, Mukherjee had claimed that the attack had a clear 'political motive', that it was done by 'outsiders' having specific political affiliations, that SFI was the main target of the attack, and that it was in 'retaliation to the attack on Bengal CM in Delhi the previous evening.'
The Commisison finds that on 10.04.2013 the said University was peacefully conducting its teaching. The classes were also going on peacefully. Around 1 O'clock a group of outsiders carrying TMCP flags and shouting slogans assembled at the main gate of university which was kept locked that time.
Thereafter, the Registrar came out of the Vice Chancellor's room to receive a call on his cell phone when he heard a tremendous hue and cry coming from the gate and he rushed to the gate to find that the processionists had broken open the gate and entered the University campus.
This version of the Registrar has virtually been corroborated by the Commissioner of Police and also by the Sub Inspector of Police, Sadhu Ch. Singha who was on the spot. Sadhu Ch. Singha deposed that two of the processionists were trying to scale the university gate and were trying to tie the TMCP flags on the gate.
His findings are that at the time of the alleged incident, the situation in the University was peaceful and no provocation came from the University. These two findings tallied with the version of the police.
Mukhopadhyay gave details of the slogans which were raised by the processionists and from which it appears that they were angry with the SFI supporters in view of some incidents which happened in Delhi in which the Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal was allegedly obstructed.
Professor Mukhopadhyay also held in the course of enquiry that one Shri Partha Bose, a Corporation Councilor of TMC was found standing with the unruly processionists who wanted to break open the University gate.
From the video footage shown to Professor Mukhopadhyay and the statement of Constable Sanjit, he came to hold that no brickbat was thrown from inside the University.
The human rights of the students certainly include the right to continue their studies in a peaceful atmosphere and the University authorities are also entitled to run the institution without being disrupted by such acts of hooliganism leading to destruction of their properties and leading to a total anarchy in the campus which posed a serious threat to the life and limbs of its students, teachers and members of the non-teaching staff.
Police was informed before the incident, in the course of the incident and police was present throughout the incident when the processionists went berserk in the University campus destroying properties, shouting slogans, assaulting students, chasing girl students at will for about an hour. Strangely enough no arrest was made even though the local Police Station was at a distance of less than one kilometer.
All these offences were committed with impunity by the intruders and the police was inactive. Any ordinary man of normal prudence will think that the police was inactive only because the processionists were carrying flags of TMCP which is the students' wing of the party in power.
In our opinion a major clash did not take place as the students of the University did not retaliate and were effectively controlled by their teachers. They were at the receiving end throughout the incident.
We do not think that for non-escalation of the situation, the Officer-in-Charge, Jorasakho Police Station deserves any credit. He miserably failed to discharge his duties possibly because he found that the rampaging students belong to the TMCP, the students wing of the party in power.
The State Government should formulate suitable guidelines for dealing with the cases of unlawful activities by the students in educational institutions.
Even though law is clear, such guidelines are required to be made as police often fail to discharge their duties according to law to tackle unlawful activities by students in educational institutions.
This has resulted in serious erosion of values and vitiated the atmosphere in many educational institutions of the State. Instances of lawlessness by students are on the increase and these things must be curbed not only to protect the human rights of innocent students and helpless teachers but also to maintain the purity and sanctity of these institutions.
It must be remembered that the existing infrastructures in our educational institutions are inadequate and we can ill afford to deplete them further.
Education is the most cardinal factor in social development and without education all other rights are like writs in water. Those guidelines be framed by the State Government within two months from the date of communication of the order.
In so far as the inaction of the Officer-in-Charge of Jorasanko Police Station is concerned, the Commission refrains from making any recommendation as he has already been reprimanded by the higher authorities.
The State Government is requested to inform this Commission about the action taken on the basis of the recommendation as stated in (a) above within a period of two months from the date of communication.