Kolkata, Sep 20 (IANS) West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi Saturday expressed “moral support” for the demands of protesting Jadavpur University students who braved the downpour in unison with thousands of students from various institutions in a mammoth rally here to seek the resignation of their vice chancellor following the alleged police assault on them.
With shouts of “Hok Kolorob” (let there be shouts), thousands marched in the heavy rain and later resorted to a sit-in demonstration as police barricades went up.
Later a six-member delegation of students from the varsity met the governor at Raj Bhavan and sought his intervention.
“Six students went to meet him. He told us that he has collected information on the incident and if anyone was found to be at fault in this regard, then action will be taken against them.
“He said he has morally supported our demands but requested us to call off the class boycotts,” varsity student Soumyajit Rajak told IANS.
According to Chironjeet Ghosh, one of the student leaders spearheading the mass movement, the governor had also requested them to withdraw the sit-in demonstration Saturday at the culmination of the march.
“After his assurance, we are withdrawing our sit in demonstration here, but our agitation will go on. On Monday, we will hold a meeting at the university to decide our future course of action, until then our academic strike will continue.
“We have requested the governor to ensure an impartial probe into the matter,” Ghosh said.
Joining the swelling crowd of protestors, who had the word ‘Chee’ (disgusting) written on headbands and badges, were hundreds of ex-students of the varsity that is now embroiled in a controversy in the aftermath of the police crackdown Sep 17.
Apart from Jadavpur varsity students, there were their compatriots from Presidency University, Calcutta University, Ashutosh College and a host of private colleges.
The anger and dissent was palpable among the students, who swathed in black (to signify a ‘Black Day’), waded, sloshed and kicked through knee-deep water and mud with strong sloganeering that reverberated through central Kolkata.
Starting from Nandan at around 3 p.m., the protestors gathered in groups and rallied with around a dozen small trucks carrying people with megaphones.
Shouts of “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Halla Bol” mixed with the more pronounced “Hok Kolorob” and the accompanying drum beats and cymbals added to the din.
The protest tag ‘Hok Kolorob that is trending on social networking sites, is inspired by a popular song of the same name by Bangladeshi singer Shayan Chowdhury.
As the slogans rose in pitch, so did the rain and melodies strummed on guitars – in jarring contrast to the shouts.
With the rain showing no sign of relenting, black umbrellas went up as did coloured ones.
And one could spot face paints and body paints with words of protest like “Hell for VC” and “Shame” jumping out in smudged red paint.
For alumni Chitralekha Ghosh, the point of disgust was the deteriorating student-teacher relationship.
Expressing solidarity with the students were members of Kamduni Protibadi Moncha, the forum protesting the Kamduni gangrape.
Shrouded in raincoats and caps as well as under umbrellas to shelter themselves from the pelting rain, the protestors moved on ahead with gusto even as they were stopped by police barricade near Jawahar Lal Nehru Road.
Apprehending police action, the students squatted down on the ground and rented the air with slogans at the sit-in demonstration.
There were also shouts of ‘Lal Salaam’ and the rampant use of words “comrades” as a huge chunk of the agitating students are affiliated to Left-backed student unions.
However, for the onlookers, it was a disruption of their weekend.
Many students were hospitalised after police allegedly beat them Sep 17 as they were protesting outside Chakrabarty’s office, seeking a fresh inquiry into the sexual harassment of a student in the campus last month.
The police crackdown has been widely condemned, with students and political parties demanding Chakrabarty’s removal.
Both Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee have refuted claims that the students were baton charged or assaulted.