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Molested At The Protest Against Molestation: How A Revolution Is Brewing In Jadavpur University

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By Nishant Chhinkwani:

Date: September 18, 2014
Time: 1630 hours
Place: Prince Anwar Shah Road, Kolkata

Prince Anwar Shah Road is one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city of Kolkata. It is one of those streets where you have to look alive and stay sharp lest you fall back or are drowned in a barrage of angry horns and colourful invectives. On Thursday however, for an hour or so, the street came alive with a different kind of anger.

Thrumming anger, pulsating anger, angry vocal chords vibrating furiously with calls for justice. Against police brutality inside the Jadavpur University campus, against the high handedness of the state, against their Vice (sic!) Chancellor, who unleashed the wrath of police batons and political goons on his own students.

Amra VC R Podhtyag Chai (We want the VC to resign)

All considerably substantial protests have one thing in common. It takes that one incident for them to snowball into the massive outrages they become. This one’s no different.

On the night of the annual cultural festival ‘Sanskriti’, August 28 2014, a second year student from the department of history was allegedly molested by a group from the hostel and her non JU friend was beaten up by the same group of students. When she decided to take the matter to the University authorities, she was met with gross indifference and apathy, with the Vice Chancellor of the University, asking her to stay away from the campus for 15 days and shrugging off his responsibility towards the safety of his students. The girl was forced to file an FIR after non action by the University authorities. Thereafter, a string of events ensued, primarily triggered off by inactivity of the VC and authorities and the biasedness of the Internal Complaint Cell(ICC) that had been set up to investigate the matter in an impartial manner. Furthermore, a General Diary was lodged by the aforesaid girl against an unauthorized visit by two unidentified women representing the University questioning the girl’s sense of propriety, dressing and sobriety on the night in question. Read detailed account here.

On September 10, at a general body meeting, it was decided that students would go for an indefinite sit in in front of the main administrative office building of the campus, Aurobindo Bhavan. Please note, that this started as a sit in and not as a ‘Gherao’ as it might be bandied about everywhere.

Picture by Ananya Roy. States clearly that the sit in is not a Gherao. Notice the receipt date of the letter on top right of the picture

From the time the incident occurred till the night of September 16, the administrative functioning of the University was not hampered in any discernable way.

On September 16, after over 100 hours had gone by, word reached out that the scheduled EC meeting had completely sidelined the issue at hand, stifled the requests and demands of a new ICC and the VC went a step ahead by saying that it was beneath his dignity to talk to students and that there was nothing left to be discussed.

The Jadavpur Union Teachers’ Association (JUTA) tried to act an intermediary between the students and VC, but in vain. True to his previous high handed stance, the Vice Chancellor refused to budge from his decision and said that the matter was now in the hands of the State. The students then decided that enough was enough and proclaimed that if the VC had to leave the campus, he would have to walk over their bodies, unless he issues a statement that the investigation would be carried out in a fair and impartial manner with a new ICC at helm.

Trouble was imminent. Despite the police assuring the students of no violence, there was still an air of uncertainty. In addition, goons from the ruling party of the state began gathering in large numbers along with Trinamool’s student party on campus.

All hell broke loose at 2!

Trucks of Rapid Action forces armed with lathis and tactical gear attacked the peaceful students, who were armed with just words and their resolve to not budge from the truth. In addition, the goons from TMC attacked them mercilessly. 40 students were injured in the brutal attack while 38 were arrested and flung into the back of the police trucks. Women were beaten up mercilessly and molested. The goons even tried to rip their clothes off!

Women getting molested for voicing their protest against the molestation of a woman – Ah irony, can thou be any more disgraceful!
Following the brutal attack, the students tended to their injured. First aid was provided first thing by the morning light while the more serious ones had to be rushed to the nearby KPC hospital. A general body meeting was then called where it was decided that students would be boycotting classes indefinitely till the Vice Chancellor does not resign and till adequate action has not be taken against him, in addition to their original demand of an impartial investigation (Read detailed account here).

The two days that have followed since the brutal police crackdown have witnessed an intense fury within the students that has transcended the boundaries of colleges and institutions. An impromptu rally taken out on the 17th witnessed over 5,000 people protesting against police and state atrocities. The procession on the 18th had a staggering 8,000 participants- students, teachers, people from different walks of life expressing their support for Jadavpur University students, expressing their solidarity with them.

Here are a few pictures that caught our eye:

In solidarity (Students are beaten molested arrested. It’s not about one girl, one department, one university. We are all ONE against this atrocity)
Lathi r mukhe gaan er suur, dekhiye dilo Jadavpur ( Translation: Jadavpur showed the world how to sing in the face of violence, of getting beaten up)
A man with his school going son, passing down the vital lesson of standing up for what’s right.
A call to arms as a storm brews up, literally and metaphorically!
The rain tries to play spoilsport, succeeds only partially as the majority complete their protest walk.

The most important thing to note and to realize is the fact that this movement is NO WAY politically supported by the opposition as purported by the ruling party. This is purely a students’ agitation, for students who have stood up for their right to security, sanctity and education, of their right to be heard and not to be trampled on like beetles. The police commissioner has already come out in a Press Conference downplaying the entire incident and showing edited video clips trying to salvage whatever little is left of their image. Several un-doctored videos available on youtube show otherwise.

An online campaign has commenced on change.org as a petition to the governor to condemn the brutal police action against students in Jadavpur University.

In addition to that, a mega rally has been called for on Saturday, September 20, starting from Nandan cinema complex at 2 P.M., right till the Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor, who is also the Chancellor of the University, and submit the demands of the students. Here’s the Facebook event link.

Be there, in flesh or spirit, but in solidarity, for the students of Jadavpur University. Because they stood up for what’s right and have stood strong in face of brutality, with a song of rebellion on their lips. You may think that this does not affect you in any way, but history has gone on to show otherwise. It happened to them. It could happen to you. Unless, you decide to take up a stand for what you believe is right.

I will.

The students of the university, however, haven’t forgotten the original incident that started the whole agitation. “It is important for us not to forget the original issue. We have to get justice for the girl who has been wronged. And justice we shall get” says a student.

It is also interesting to note that the mainstream media has been downplaying the situation. In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned in any way in most major publications/ news channels. The ones which do, present a picture far removed from reality where the reports are mostly against the students. The evidence present on various social media platforms, however, is irrefutable proof of the atrocity of the state run police, the greasy political machinations that run the state and the callousness of the administration towards the students of its own University.

A chant for all the pent up anger and the rage against the atrocity and apathy of the University officials and the State seemed to have sent tremors throughout the country. The ‘mini revolution’ or so it is being termed, draws life from this chant that mobilizes thousands of people on social media forcing them to think and decide and act on what’s right. Everywhere, from JNU in Delhi to IIT in Bombay, one chant rises prominently above the rest and trends at the top.

#HOKKOLOROB!

Also Read: Horrors Of Last Night At Jadavpur University: “My Friends Were Brutally Assaulted, Their Clothes Torn”

Jadavpur University Molestation Case: Students Up In Protest Against Administrative Inaction

You must be to comment.
  1. Soumitra Bose

    Very good documentation indeed!

  2. Babar

    Molestation is plain wrong, there is no excuse for it, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. But the fight to end
    oppression and violence against women remains one-sided, as authors never focus on the violence that is committed on women by other women. The biggest perpetrators of violence, whether against men or women, are women themselves, with mothers-in-law taking the lead. Not to mention the plotting and scheming, gossiping and backbiting by women which has broken families apart and has caused both men and women harm. Until and unless we get over our biases against males, we will not be able to end violence against women.

    1. D gill

      Babar, you need to get a hobby. You’ve posted the same thing 95 times. Your comment has zero to do with the article, yet again. Move on already.

    2. Anonymous

      If this whole thing was about bias against the men, I am sure the whole protest wouldn’t have had so many genuine male students participating in it. What those students are doing is to fight gender bias not male or female bias.

  3. sahithya yadati

    It is such a shame to see this happening to the students and media not giving the students the attention they deserve. Perhaps the media forgot the presence and the power of the social media and the internet which can bring out the actual truth. Shame on you media.

  4. ashutosh

    detailed analysis of the myths, which are very much part of the daily life of the vast majority of Indians, appear to reinforce traditional hierarchies, which, far from being ideal, are in fact promoting and glorifying an idealised form of behaviour for women which is actually regressive and backward-looking. They moreover punish deviations from such behaviours with extreme, socially sanctioned violence both in public and private spheres, to the extent that even the justice systems do not seem free from their influence, judging by the manner in which cases relating to women in general, and the dalits and tribals, the women of these groups in particular, are being dealt with in the country. In fact, it is not only a question of punishing deviations, but also of humiliating, oppressing and abusing women, most often for no fault of their own, but for daring to question basic human rights violations faced by them, such as the grabbing of livelihood resources such as common grazing lands, water sources, or forests. And the state in all its manifestations, whether the police, the judicial system, the administration, or their own families and communities – are nowhere to be seen in defending their right to freedom, autonomy, and personal security.
    http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7000:popular-mythologies-and-their-implications-for-violence-against-women&catid=120:gender&Itemid=133

  5. ashutosh

    Rape has, of late, become an acute disease in the Indian society. Prima facie, this is a problem arising out of a mental disorder, but there is also a larger cultural context that, to an extent, explains how the Indian male became so brutal.
    Our cultural upbringing conditions male minds to behave in a cruel fashion with women. Family upbringing, societal conditioning, religious sagas and political animus, all construct our men and women into being what they are — men as aggressive and women as submissive. Which is why men here, in India, are different from men in other countries.
    http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7049%3Athe-roots-of-rape-in-india&catid=118&Itemid=131

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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