National Situation

Jadavpur University Faculty Protest Clamp Down on Campus Democracy

Jadavpur University, rated by the University Grants Commission as one of India's best univiersities, has been the site of repeated student agitations in recent times. The bourgeois media have been calling for firm action, and The Statesman suggested that the installation of CCTV is needed to keep Maoists out of the campus, while The Telegraph has been claiming, without producing evidence, that a handful of student leaders are forcing the vast majority of Engineering students to boycott the examinations. Below, we publish the letter from over forty JU academics to the Vice Chancellor, indicating that it is not simply a case of hot headed student politics  as the bourgeois media would like its readers to believe. The letter, circulated over the internet, has been given the title Is Jadavpur University Becoming A Police University.



The Vice-Chancellor
Jadavpur University
Calcutta 700 032
Dated, Jadavpur University
11 November 2010


Dear Sir,

We, the undersigned teachers of Jadavpur University, express our deep sense of shock and indignation at the police assault within the campus on a group of demonstrating students in the afternoon of 9th November 2010 – an unprecedented incident in the 55-year old history of our University. It is clear from the accounts of eye-witnesses and audio-visual media coverage of incident that in the immediate trail of the Chief Minister Sri Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee’s arrival in the campus, the concerned students were shouting slogans against the authority’s decision to invite a Chief Minister who they felt was responsible for the police atrocities on the people of Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh. These demonstrators were evidently unarmed and had not committed any act of violence while protesting against the Chief Minister’s visit. Baton-wielding police, who had practically besieged the campus in drones just before the arrival of the Chief Minister ruthlessly beat up the demonstrators, many of whom were female students, taking care to bruise them all over their bodies. Media coverage showed girl students being dragged by the hair and severely thrashed.

Our indignation is all the greater because this incident of police violence ties up with a wider picture that has started looming large for all of us to see. We have already witnessed an acute anxiety on the part of our University authorities to initiate surveillance on campus life with the aid of CCTV cameras. More recently, in the immediate trail of   a seminar in which some outsiders swarmed in to create a ruckus, the authorities have decided to have an EC resolution to the effect that the themes, list of speakers and content of presentations of all future seminars in the University shall be under the surveillance of the authorities who will allow/disallow the holding of respective seminars accordingly. Consequently, we feel that the incident of 9th November 2010 really represents yet another instance of the way in which our University is becoming less of a University and more of a police state in the miniature. We find this development very embarrassing for our identity as academics.

 

We strongly urge the University authorities to clarify to us:

  1. Whether as a University Jadavpur is not an inheritor of the uniqueness – globally recognized – of Universities as entities very different and distinct in spirit from the state or government. After all, demonstrating students were only voicing their own opinion and not physically hurting anybody. Recently, JNU students similarly demonstrated against P. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister, in his presence and were not taken to task by the Delhi police. Universities, we emphasize, are sites of free thinking and critical questioning and should be retained as such if our systems are to be prevented from taking a Fascist turn.
  2. Whether the police action was advised by the University authorities. If not, how could the police be allowed to unleash such atrocities in a place which has its own administration distinct from that of the state.
  3.  Has the University listened to the account of the police-assaulted, aggrieved students who have every right to be heard especially as they were beaten up by the police within the sanctified environs of a campus life; conventionally, campus life all over the world is specially insulated from police action.
  4. Why has a paranoia come to grip our University authorities – a paranoia that has completely subverted the openness and eclecticism that is the hallmark of a University environment? Is it that this paranoia is a mark of the isolation of the authorities from the student and the teaching communities as well as from the wider world outside. Such isolation, we are afraid, can only spell the death of an academic institution which need to be perpetually in touch with the wider social reality albeit intellectually and reflectively.
  5. Finally, has the University really missed the significance of a police assault on unarmed students taking place in front of a hall that ironically bears the name of Gandhi, a person who is regarded by many as an ‘apostle of non-violence’     

 

We demand that

a)    the University authorities should verify whether the police have framed criminal charges against the demonstrating students

b)    if such charges have actually been framed then the University should come to the protection of the students as it was the police who had initiated action against unarmed students in their own turn unsolicited by the University authorities as the authorities themselves have claimed in the media. It goes without saying that the University should also see to it that these charges are withdrawn.

c)     the authorities should also give appropriate hearing to the injured students and ensure immediate medical treatment for them.

d)    The authorities should ensure that justice is done to the victims of police brutality.


Regards,

Amit Bhattacharyya, Professor of History,

Sudeshna Banerjee, Reader in History

Anindya Majumdar, Reader in International Relations

Tilottama Mukherjee, Lecturer in history

H.N.Toppo,Lecturer in International Relations

Sumita Sen, Professor of International Relations

Gautam Basu, Professor of International Relations

Abhijit Roy, Reader in Film Studies

Gautam Nandi, Reader in Mechanical Engineering

B.C.Pal, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Chaitali Dutta, Reader in Library & Information Science

Tarun Kumar Mondal, Lecturer in Library & Information Science

Udayan Bhattacharyya, Reader in Library & Information Science

Tarun Kanti Naskar, Reader in Mechanical Engineering

Bhaskar Gupta, Professor of Electronics& Teli-communication Engineering

Amitabha Gangopadhyay, Professor of Civil Engineering

Sanjoy Kumar  Saha, Reader in Computer Science Engineering

Dipak Kumar Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Nupur Dasgupta, Professor of History

Kalyan Kumar Ray, Professor of Instrumentation and Electronics Engineering

Debi Chatterjee, Professor of International Relations

Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature

Aveek Majumdar, Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Suchorita Chattopadhyay, Professor of Comparative Literature

Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta, Professor of Comparative Literature

Jugaratan Barman, Reader in Economics

Ajitabha Ray Chaudhury, Professor of Economics

Bhaswar Moitra, Professor of Economics

Chandrani Banerjee, Lecturer in History

Anuradha Ray, Professor of History

Himadri Banerjee, Professor of History

Sumit Kumar Barua, Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Sivaji Bandyopadhyay, Reader in Computer Science Engineering

Ranjan Chakrabarti, Professor of History

Bipul Malakar, Professor of Economics

Tuhin Das, Professor of Economics

Samir Das, Lecturer in History  

Maroona Murmu, Senior Lecturer in History

Swati Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Printing Engineering.

Kumardev Banerjee, Reader in Instrumentation & Electronics Engineering

Rajiv Bandyopadhyay, Professor of Instrumentation & Electronics Engineering

Bivas Dam, Professor of Instrumentation & Electronics Engineering

Kalyan Majumdar, Reader in Instrumentation & Electronics Engineering

Abhijit Ghosh, Reader in Sanskrit