Explained: All You Need To Know About The Jadavpur University Violence

The Jadavpur University witnessed high drama Thursday when Union Minister Babul Supriyo came to campus to attend a seminar organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS and was heckled by students. The protesters allege that the leader had insulted and threatened some students.

What started as a protest soon snowballed into violence and arson as alleged ABVP members then ransacked the university offices and set fire to a JU gate.

Kolkata saw rallies being held the entire day. While the BJP held protests over Supriyo being manhandled, supporters of left-wing organizations held protests over the ransacking of students’ union room.

According to news reports, four FIRs have been lodged at the university police station since Thursday night.

One is a suo motu case lodged by the police, and the other three have been registered by JU General Secretary of Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) Debraj Debnath, ABVP JU Convener Nityananda Mistry and BJP member Agnimitra Paul.

How Did It All Begin?

“They pulled me by my hair and pushed me,” Supriyo claimed, who is seen in videos surrounded by a huge crowd of protesting students refusing to let him enter the campus.

On Thursday, Supriyo had gone to JU to address an event organised by ABVP, where he was gheraoed by protesters. The minister refused to leave and entered into a verbal altercation with the students.

JU vice chancellor Suranjan Das tried to intervene and asked Supriyo to proceed to the event, but the standoff continued for nearly an hour.

As he prepared to leave after attending the seminar, he faced a demonstration by the students again and was stopped.

As the situation escalated, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar had to reach the campus to rescue Supriyo.

What Did Protesters Say About Heckling Supriyo?

The protestors have alleged that Supriyo had insulted and threatened some students.

“A peaceful protest had been organised because we knew Supriyo was coming to the campus. Students of Jadavpur University (JU), from across organisations, were present and preparing to show black flags (to the union minister),” Samanway Raha, the Kolkata district secretary of the Left-backed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) said.

According to Raha, the demonstration, agitated Supriyo who allegedly made sexist remarks in Bengali against female students who had gathered there. According to protesters, Supriyo refused to enter the hall until all protesting students left.

What Led To The Violence?

The same evening, stick wielding supporters allegedly from the ABVP stormed the university premises.

They ransacked the Arts union room near Gate No. 4, the ground-floor corridor of the UG Arts building, set fire to at least six cycles and blocked the road outside the university for over an hour.

The rampage began around 7 pm and continued for over an hour.

Shouting “Jai Shree Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai,” witnesses said the ABVP supporters set fire to furniture, computers and ceiling fans of the room.

It’s a charge that ABVP has denied. “Outsiders must have felt bad that a union minister was being held captive, so they entered the campus,” one of the members told a news channel.

What Was Babul Supriyo’s Reaction?

Supriyo has accused the Mamata Banerjee government of not coming to his rescue. The minister has also maintained that he was manhandled by the protesting students.

“They assaulted me the moment I got out of the car. They kicked me, punched me, caught my hair… pulled me from one end to another. These were apparently students,” he told a news channel.

“They hit me again with wooden sticks on my hand after I came down from the programme,” he added.

Has The Issue Acquired Political Overtones?

The incident has definitely acquired a political colour with leaders from both sides blaming each other for the ruckus.

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvergiya said the incident was evidence of the deteriorating law and order situation in Bengal. Saying that the TMC and the police allowed it to happen, he wondered how the condition of the common man is in the state, if a union minister and governor didn’t feel safe in it.

Extending support to the union minister, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta too criticised the agitators for creating a disgraceful scene in a tweet.

On the other hand, the TMC has claimed that the governor played partisan politics by visiting the university without taking the state government in confidence.

Editorial note: There is a lot of speculation about what really happened at Jadavpur University, with differing accounts offering different perspectives. If you are a student from Jadavpur University and want to write about what transpired at the university, or how you feel about the developments of the last couple of days, publish your stories here.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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