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'Babul Supriyo Go Back': Minister Heckled by Students at Jadavpur University, Leaves Site after Long Wait

Several slogan-shouting pro-Left students surrounded Babul Supriyo as soon as he arrived and asked him to leave.

Kolkata: Union minister Babul Supriyo was on Thursday shown black flags and heckled by a section of students at Jadavpur University where he had gone to address a seminar organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) — the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Supriyo was initially stopped from entering the campus for around an hour-and-a-half from 2.30 pm by members of Left-leaning organisations — Arts Faculty Students' Union (AFSU) and Students Federation of India (SFI) — who raised the slogan 'Babul Supriyo Go Back', said sources from the university.

"I did not come here to do politics. But I am saddened by the behaviour of some of the students of the university, the way they have heckled me. They pulled me by my hair and pushed me," Supriyo, who attended the seminar amid heavy security, told reporters visiting the campus.

Describing the behaviour of the agitating students as "absolutely deplorable", he alleged that the protesters were trying to "disturb peace" at the institute by "instigating the students and seminar organizers to create a stampede-like situation". Supriyo also claimed that the protesting students tried to "provoke him by openly calling themselves naxals".

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who reached the varsity around 6.50 pm to meet the higher authorities and to rescue Supriyo, also faced stiff resistance from students who refused to allow the minister to leave the campus.

Earlier, Dhankhar termed the students' action as a very serious matter and asked State Chief Secretary Moloy De to take immediate steps to bring the situation in the campus under control. The Governor said the 'gherao' is an adverse reflection on the law and force agency in the state.

The Governor’s convoy was stuck inside the campus as hundreds of students blockade the road in front of Gate number 4. Around 7.12 pm, Dhankar – amid serious security issues – got down from his vehicle and rescued Supriyo with the help of the police. The protesting students of the university staged demonstrations before the Governor as he tried to leave the campus with Supriyo.

The agitating students ended the blockade after the police and the university teachers persuaded them and Dhankhar left the place with Supriyo in his car.

In retaliation, ABVP students went on a rampage and damaged several university properties. They also set a portion of the student union’s office on fire. A large contingent of police force rushed to the spot and presently the situation is extremely tense.

AFSU leader Debraj Debnath, who participated in the protest, asserted that "fascist forces" will not be allowed on the campus. "We will not let the BJP, the RSS and the ABVP to spread their ideology in a liberal institute like JU," he said.

A TV grab showed Supriyo gesturing at the protesters, asking them to continue their demonstration and claiming he would not be intimidated by them.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress slammed the Governor for visiting Jadavpur University campus without informing the state government.

“This is most unfortunate and shocking that our Governor, the custodian of the Constitution of the state, without informing the elected government went to the so-called rescue of the BJP leader from Jadavpur University,” TMC Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said in a statement.

“The chief minister requested him several times that the Governor being the constitutional head need not go at this moment. The CM requested him to give the government some time to peacefully solve the issue,” TMC said.

Sources said JU Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das, who rushed to the spot on being informed about the incident, tried to reason with agitating students, who refused to budge from the main entrance of the university. Has was taken to a hospital.

"It was unfortunate. I will send a report on the incident to the governor, who is also the chancellor of the university," Das said about the incident.

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, who said he had taught at the university JU for 20 years, also condemned the "attack" on Supriyo.

(With inputs from PTI)

first published:September 19, 2019, 17:25 IST