On April 1 2017, some students of Jadavpur University held a peaceful protest against a seminar organised by the college. Titled ‘International Seminar on Persecution of Religious Minorities in Bangladesh’ the seminar had speakers like Dilip Ghosh and Tathagata Ray, both associated with BJP. The students were carrying out a silent dissent against the University for inviting them and other BJP leaders by putting up posters everywhere. However, soon the protests turned violent as some outsiders, allegedly from RSS, barged into the college premises, and started thrashing the students. In the scuffle that followed, many students were beaten up, manhandled and molested. A female student’s clothes were torn, while another got pushed off her feet to the ground. The goons were also mouthing cuss words, which were directed mainly at women.
While the mob fled as soon they had been overpowered, the incident has led to a lot of outrage among students of Jadavpur University. They tried to lodge an FIR but the police refused, and are also planning to organise a rally on April 3, titled ‘Rally Against Increasing Communal Activities and Moral Policing of RSS-BJP.’ Besides this, there has been a lot of outpour on social media, where students have expressed their anger at the growing influence of Hindutva and communal violence on college campuses. Many are concerned that the presence of ABVP, the youth wing of BJP has created a fear in the minds of students, that they would be assaulted if they raise their voices against them.
A female student, who didn’t wish to be named describes the entire sequence of events – “We don’t know who gave the permission to organize such a seminar where people like Dilip Ghosh and Tathagata Ray, who spread hate politics were invited. Around 5 pm, when few students were peacefully protesting, people who were from outside started beating up and verbally abusing them. Three students were severely injured and taken to the hospital. And when some students went to file an FIR around 7 pm, the police refused to do so.”
She was very upset with the whole thing and went onto say, “The authority has kept their mouth shut regarding the seminar, while the administrators has failed to protect students but incites such forums to organise religiously fundamentalist seminars in colleges. Nationwide wherever the student community has raised its voice, the Hindutva forces of RSS-VHP-BJP have tried to suppress them by physically assaulting them, threatening to harass female students, or shutting down centres or institutions for higher research.” On being asked whether this has happened before she said, “They tried doing the same some time before but failed. However, this time with their victory in the UP elections, they are trying to create riot like situations and spread venomous fundamentalist tactics.”
The incident at Jadavpur University isn’t something we are unfamiliar with. The incidents at JNU, the Rohith Vemula case that took place in 2016 at Hyderabad Central University, and the controversy at Ramjas College in February this year are testimony to the fact that dissent has no place in Indian politics. Those who try to do so are either beaten up, branded as ‘anti-nationals’, threatened or in some cases even murdered. The rise of communal violence in the name of ‘protecting Indian culture’ is a threat to the fabric of our democracy. As long as we don’t respect the one who don’t conform or agree to the opinions of the general public, we shouldn’t be proud to call ourselves the ‘world’s largest democracy.’