#HokKolorob : হোক কলরব।

I was dragged out of Aurobindo Bhavan, while being kicked at my lower abdomen constantly. Then, I was dragged till in front of Aurobindo Bhavan, I tried to snatch two of my friends from those hooligans, but I was kicked on my RIB CAGE with heavy boots and then while I was down, they squashed my left foot.

– Tanumay Naskar.

Tanumay is one of the young students protesting in Jadavpur University demanding a panel for an impartial probe into a recent girl molestation during their cultural fest. The VC of the university asked for police intervention. The police had come uniformed and armed with a few unidentified local boys, switched the lights off, lathi charged the students. 37 got arrested. More than 40 got admitted to the nursing home. The students allege the unidentified people are TMCP (Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad) members. They further allege ruthless beating up and molestation of a few girls who were protesting. A few first hand descriptions from the students reduced me to tears. And that is precisely why I blog post this today, shivering in sheer disgust and extending my solidarity.

Female students are being attacked by the police (male and female police), their dresses being torn off, being dragged by the hair.

– Godhuli Bose (Link)

My morning started with a very young friend asking for help. It was around 4 AM. I sat up on my bed horrified. Not much of what he said had registered in my mind. Ritam messaged me next and explained how the students have been man handled. Soon an entire range of experiences started to unfold and all I could manage was to give Facebook updates. I felt so helpless. Many of those beaten up were in school as recently as last February. They are incredibly young and it only takes the hardest of hearts to call for such action.

Turning off the lights, seriously? Beating up students ruthlessly. So less women police when they should have been well informed that a good percentage of protesters were girls? Why involving local goons? Why breaking the camera of a reputed media house and beating the reporter? Does it not hurt the dignity of the institution?

There will be arguments and counter arguments. And arguments countering the counter arguments. There will always be a complaint of changing standards of teachers and students alike.

According to a friend of mine, the students are protesting because a person from their friend circle / union is accused of the rape. I do not see any harm in that. If they require two more people to voice their opinion to the rest of the panel, I personally would not see harm in that.

A girl had reportedly been molested by 10 boys. The VC only responded after a couple of days after the incident when the girl’s father was planning to lodge a police complaint. The VC has not yet issued a formal statement about fair investigation. The committee probing the incident is accused of having harassed the victim.

One of the agitators, Sammya Mukhopadhyay tells me

The Vice-Chancellor had previously said that speaking to the students would result in a lowering of his dignity and that it wasn’t his job.  When the authorities maintained their position, students began singing and shouting slogans in front of Aurobindo Bhavan.

I asked another student , “Why did you gherao the VC in the evening?”

Around 7-30 PM, TMCP goons entered the campus. Half an hour later, they started harassing the students physically, injuring two. It was then that the protesters gheraoed the officials.

Sammya further told,

We, the students made a human barricade to stop the police from entering. I was in front of the barricade. One of the policemen punched me in the stomach, kicked me and when I fell down they dragged me by my hair outside the premises of our movement. I have been an eye-witness and victim to this horrifying unleashing of State power on non-violent students.

Deep Sarkar, who was not there during the protest writes to me:

I do not understand where humanity has lost its way in the twisted alleys of politics. The teachers have joined the students in the protest and went to Lalbazaar to free them.

Talking about teachers, Sayantani Adhikary writes

সত্যি বলতে কি, আমরা কেউই ভাবতে পারিনি ১৬ই সেপ্টেম্বর রাতটা কী ভয়াবহ হতে চলেছে। তখন রাত সাড়ে ৯টা হবে, হঠাত এক বন্ধুর ফোন, এখনি যেতে হবে যাদবপুর ইউনিভার্সিটি, সেখানে স্টুডেন্টরা হয়ত আক্রান্ত হতে পারে আজ রাতে, কিছু পার্টির গুন্ডার হাতে ।

চেনা মুখগুলো মনে পড়ে গেল, আমার প্রাক্তন ছাত্র, আমার তুত ভাই, বন্ধুর বোন, মুখ চেনা ডিপার্টমেন্ট এর সেই মেয়েটি।… ওদেরই ফোন করলাম, কিছু ভেবে না পেয়ে। ওপার থেকে অপার কনফিডেন্স এর সাথে উত্তর এলো, “জানি তো, এখানে ওই পার্টির গুন্ডারা অনেকক্ষণ থেকে ঘুরছে, মিডিয়া আছে বলে কিছু করতে পারছেনা। চিন্তা কোর না, আমরা ঠিক আছি!পুলিশ ও আছে! এখানে ঘেরাও চলছে, আমরা কথা বলতে চাই authority র সঙ্গে “…

শোনা গেল আজ রাতে হয়ত ঝামেলা হবে না, যা হবার কাল. একটু আস্বস্ত হলাম, তবুও কেন জানি ঠিক বিশ্বাস হলো না. রাত তখন ২.১৫. আমাদের সবার আশংকা কে সত্যি প্রমান করে একের পর এক আপডেট আসতে থাকলো  facebook এ…. করুণ আবেদন, কেউ কিছু করুন, ওরা V .C কে বের করে নিয়ে গেল, এবার আক্রমণ করবে। বলতে বলতেই আলো বন্ধ করে ঝাপিয়ে পড়ল দুর্বৃত্তর দল l বার বার আবেদন আসতে লাগলো, হেল্প , মেয়েদের মারছে ছেলেরা, মলেস্ট করছে! এরই মধ্যে এক ছাত্রের মেসেজ ” জোর করে ধরে নিয়ে যাচ্ছে পুলিশ “! দেশ বিদেশ থেকে বন্ধু, ছাত্র দের মেসেজ কী খবর, কী হলো? নতুন কিছু জানলে? তুমি কোথায়? ঠিক আছো তো?? বিশ্বাস করুন এরকম হেল্পলেস কখনও মনে হয়নি নিজেকে, চারদিকে আর্তনাদ আর আমরা কেউ কিছু করতে পারছি না, অপেক্ষা করছি কখন সকাল হবে…..আর এর মধ্যে আহত, এবং অপসৃত দের আর্তনাদ গুমরে মরছে facebook এর দেয়াল এ দেয়ালে।

সকাল হলো, গেলাম ইউনিভার্সিটি চত্বরে , দেখলাম যেন রণক্ষেত্র J . U চত্বর। কাল কী ঝড় বযে গেছে বোঝা যাচ্ছে, কিছু ছেলে মেয়ে আছে, কেউ কেঁদে ফেলছে বলতে গিয়ে, কেউ চোয়াল শক্ত করে বলছে, কাল ওরা আমার জামার মধ্যে হাত ঢুকিয়ে দিয়েছিল l আমার চোয়াল শক্ত হয়ে আসে, ভাবি, এদের মত মনের জোর আর শিরদাড়া কি পাব আমরা? কখনো???…প্রশ্নগুলো সহজ, আর উত্তরও তো জানা।

I do not think I need to write more after Sayantani Ma’am. I know Tanumay for around 3 years now. He is an excellent photographer, given his age and constraints. I know Ritam for some time over Facebook. 2 of the few girls who got molested, call me “Dada”, one relation I treasure more than anything else on earth. A few in the hospital too calls me “Dada”, I know them as young and happy people. A few agitators I know, are able photographers, a few writers. For those who know me well, to them I say – I could not hold my tears.

No sensible reasoning can justify beating up younger children. No reasons might justify involving goons of an affiliated political party. To me, my teachers were the guides who had with all their care, guided me in academics and personal life. If today my own brother or my son is angry with me, I might not call a 3rd person to even make him understand, forget about beating him.

If I am the VC : My ability to communicate or care as a VC ends the very moment I decide to call the police. If I am not an able VC, I should have no right to govern an university as prestigious as Jadavpur University. I should step down.

I too would demand the resignation of the VC. For the sake of education if not anything else.

Like Sayantani Ma’am was approached for help and to spread the word, I too have been asked. Many like me were asked. It spread through the social media like a fire. Within hours, a rally was conceptualised. More than 7000 people turned up in the protest walk from JU campus till Golpark.

Photograph: Pratyay Mukhopadhyay

I do not know how someone can be so heartless. Are the educational institutions in the hands of the illiterate and the goons? Not long ago was my Alma Mater Bengal College of Engineering and Technology, Durgapur at the verge of closing down. The authorities had wished the lecturers to distribute promotional pamphlets in different parts of the town, including the railway stations, completely disregarding the dignity of teacher-hood. The teachers who refused this, were peacefully terminated. The list includes the diamonds that once decked the crown of the institute. The teachers are on protest to get their voices heard. The college continues to run with newer teachers.

I hang my head in shame.

I decided to be a part of the movement, in spirit and in physical presence. Be there. In my limited opinion, it is time we voice ourselves fearlessly and honestly.  Today, JU @ 2 PM

 

—–

Update: 21 September 2014

I went to the rally on the 17th, the 18th and the 20th.
I never thought young people would join in, in such huge numbers. Pasting a few photographs of the same, shot by me and a few of my friends.

 

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha


Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Sayan Biswas

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha

On the 20th September rally, the organising committee was expecting a turnout of 15,000 because it was raining heavily. If we have to believe media reports, more than 120,000 people turned up cutting across various age groups and professions. Similar protests were made in Delhi and Mumbai.
I was thrilled to be a part of it, volunteered to coordinate and manage. I was not the photographer there.
Picture this: One broad way. Heavy rains. 1 lakh strong young people walking down the road. They are independent students, not politically coloured. One roared “Hok Kolorob”, a hundred thousand behind him roared “Hok Hok Hok Kolorob”. No other sound. No other word. Hok Kolorob. And you are right in the middle of it. Right in the middle.

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Avinandan Ani

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha