BJP creates havoc in Calcutta University and Vidyasagar University in Kolkata


On the evening of May 14, waves of panic descended across Kolkata as aggressive BJP cadres, agitated by the Trinamool Chatro Porishod (TMCP) student protests against Amit Shah’s rally in the city, stormed into the campuses of Calcutta University (CU) and Vidyasagar University and attacked both institutions by spreading carnage wherever they went. The cadres went on a violent spree as they constantly pelted stones at the campuses, got in alternations with students from both Universities, threw bottles of urine and police barricades, burnt three motor bicycles and destroyed the bust of Vidyasagar who is considered to be an integral icon to Indian and Bengali culture.

Considered to be one of the heinous acts of Bengali political history, the atrocity initially started out as a rally by Amit Shah, which began at 5.30 in the evening. His rally was supposed to pass through College Street, where both Calcutta University and Vidyasagar College were located. Huge followers swarmed the streets of College Street and the Kolkata Police were notified about it, trying to keep the enthusiasm at bay. The BJP cadres were shouting nationalistic slogans but it was counter protested by 20 students of Calcutta University. They started to peacefully protest, while loaded with black flags and shouting slogans such as ‘Go back Amit Shah!’ ‘No More of BJP!’.

Enraged by the student retaliation against them, Amit Shah, along with few of his cadre, took to expressing their anger at 7pm by blanketing the campuses of CU and Vidyasagar University with ruthless attack. Bengali news channels were flooded with a bevy of reports and authentic news clips where it was evident that BJP cadres were kicking the gates of the CU campus, attacking the police, snatching their barricade and throwing them into the University campuses. People in saffron clothing in Amit Shah’s rally were threatening the college students, the educational institutions, lighting fire to offices and stealing laptops and physically injuring students.

But the act that hurt a lot of sentiments, was that the BJP cadre broke down Vidyasagar’s statue at Vidyasagar University. Ishwarchondro Vidyasagar was a social reformer who he advocated the rights of women and their entry to the academic sphere. He was also successful in eradicating widow remarriage and putting a stop to the child marriage. An important icon to Bengali cultural heritage, the BJP who was responsible for demolishing his statue outraged Bengali pride and honour.

There was widespread condemnation of the attack. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Bengal, and Partha Chatterjee, Education Minister of Bengal, came down to the premises and TMCP organised a protest in the CU campus.

There was a post also doing the rounds where a person, who claimed the be a student of Vidysagar College, alleged that TMCP cadres caused the disruption and they broke the statue of Vidyasagar. The claim turned out to be false, as prior documentation shows graphic evidence of people belonging from BJP who were breaking the statue. The person who spread the rumour was an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) cadre, studying at Rabindra Bharathi University.

One thing alleged by TMC which was targeted at the students was that there were TMCP cadres.

“I understand that some students are pursuing a TMCP line of ideology, they might be participating in the Union, but these were after all, students. These were not cadres. Their identity first constitutes that of a student before their affiliation with any political party,” said Anubhav Chakraborty, first year, English Literature, from CU.

“We recognise the narrative to push it into political colours. In these binaries, I’m a left supporter. There are people who feel unsafe about this incident. Even people who do not subscribe to any political affiliation felt angry, are furious about BJP’s actions. Of course, they think the TMCP could have better protected the statue of Vidyasagar or better protected themselves from the flare. But we also acknowledge that they are students, so what else could they have done?’

Chakraborty also failed to understand what went wrong with the ECI.

“They had the graphic evidence, everything. There are only nine seats in Bengal to contest. The campaigning time that they introduced, seemed quite drastic and unnecessary and it refuses to acknowledge who was at fault. If campuses are being attacked, then the party should be held accountable for it.”

At the end of the day, the Bengali audience knows that BJP cadres want to scare them into obedience. But they are really not scared of them – they are just concerned, angry and furious.