Visva Bharati University Faculty Association President Sudipta Bhattacharyya has also voiced concerns about the future of the university. (File)
A police complaint has been filed against Visva-Bharati University Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Bidyut Chakrabarty by a students’ group after a video surfaced where he can purportedly be heard telling fellow participants at a rally to “teach a lesson” to some students. The video appears to have been shot at a march on January 7, a day before students affiliated to Left outfits stalled a seminar on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta was supposed to address.
The V-C refused to talk on the issue, directing The Sunday Express to contact his public relations officer (PRO). The PRO, Anirban Sarkar, denied that it was Chakrabarty in the video. “The voice in the clippings is not our Vice-Chancellor’s voice. It is a doctored video. It has been made to ruin the image of the university,” Sarkar said.
Two of the students who were part of the January 8 protests were beaten up on the campus on January 15, and three people were arrested for the attack.
In the video, which seems to have been shot during a January 7 march led by Chakrabarty, seeking end to “defamation” of the university, the V-C appears to be asking for photographs of certain people, to which a reply comes that all the names and photographs will be provided to him. After this, the V-C can purportedly be heard saying, “Ektu osudh diye dao na (Give them some medicine, no),” to which comes a reply, “Without your green signal, we can’t do anything, no.” The other man is not clearly visible.
Later in the video, Achintya Bagdi, one of the three arrested for the January 15 assault on students, apart from Sulabh Karmakar and Sabir Ali, can be seen walking in the front row with Chakrabarty. The Visva Bharati Students’ Unity, which has filed the complaint and which claims to be an independent forum not linked to any party, has attached the video with it.
Superintendent of Police, Birbhum district, Shyam Singh said, “We have got the FIR along with the video clippings. We have started our investigation.”
In the wake of protests against the CAA, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register on campus, Chakrabarty had organised a lecture on the Act on January 8. The students claim the video is proof that the V-C intended to disrupt their protest against the lecture.
Watch | In the video, Visva Bharati V-C says, “Ektu osudh diye dao na (Give them some medicine, no),” to which comes a reply, “Without your green signal, we can’t do anything, no.”https://t.co/2cz4NKfMUE pic.twitter.com/xt38zkodhl
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) January 25, 2020
On that day, students had gathered outside the auditorium where the lecture was to be held, confining the V-C and Swapan Dasgupta inside. While Chakrabarty’s aides arrived at the spot, the situation was defused at the time without violence.
In their complaint, students have said the video proves the V-C “directly aided” the January 15 attack and was part of the “conspiracy”.
Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association president Sudipta Bhattacharyya said while the authenticity of the video was yet to be determined, there was “prima facie basis” for the complaint as one of the persons in it had been arrested for the violence against students, and it seemed he was being “directed by the V-C”. “The police complaint lodged by the students supported with a video is serious and the silence of the authority suspicious,” he said.
In the video, Chakrabarty is purportedly also heard instructing an aide to arrange a “bike bahini” (biker army), apparently to check protests against the January 8 seminar. “Come over tomorrow during the lecture at 3.30 pm. They can create trouble. Come over with your bike bahini,” the V-C is heard saying.
One of the two students beaten up on January 15, Falguni Pan, said, “If we look at the assaul on JNU campus earlier this month, we could see a lot of it was planned on various WhatsApp groups, of which professors and people in the varsity administration were a part. All the screenshots prove this... Now we have video proof that the Visva Bharati administration took responsibility to break the students’ movement by inciting violence through such goons.”
Pan drew a parallel to the violence seen on Jamia Millia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University and JNU campuses.
Another student, Somnath Sow, said police were yet to register an FIR, but had assured them that probe was on and they would be called to the police station when required.
Bhattacharyya, Professor at the Department of Economics and Politics, also accused the administration of cracking down on faculty, saying the office of the teachers’ association had been locked without notice and staff members were being “subjugated by show-cause notices, suspension and transfer”.