"“They beat me with cricket bats, stumps and sticks. I was hit on my forehead with a wicket, and I was bleeding. I could see uniformed police personnel near me, and I asked them for help. But the Kolkata Police did not intervene.”" - Pawan Shukla, injured Jadavpur University student
That is the story behind the now viral picture of the injured Jadavpur University student in a bloodstained white shirt. Pawan Shukla is a first-year postgraduate student at JU. On Thursday evening, he was assaulted by a mob outside his university.
Even as the university and its immediate surroundings were subjected to arson, vandalism and thuggery, students like Pawan bore the worst brunt of the violence on campus.
"On being rushed to hospital after the clashes, Pawan received two stitches on the head. He still has bruises on his body from where the bats and wickets struck him."
Speaking to The Quint, Pawan clarifies, “I am not part of any political organisation. I participated in the anti-ABVP protest independently.”
The protest was timed around an ABVP event for which BJP MP Babul Supriyo had been invited to the campus. After having heated verbal altercations on camera with the administration and students, Supriyo left the university alleging he had been manhandled and physically assaulted as well.
‘Assaulters Were Chanting Jai Shri Ram’
Pawan, a student of the university’s Comparative Literature course, narrates the sequence of events that led to him being surrounded by a mob, “I had gone out for some time in the evening, and when I came back, I was trying to enter the campus through Gate No. 4.”
He adds, “While doing so, I asked the people who had gathered there with sticks and stumps in their hands, “Yeh wicket wagerah le ke kaha khade ho? Isse chot lag jayega kisi ko. Kisko maarne aaye ho? (Why are you standing here with wickets and stuff? People could get hurt with them. Whom have you come to hit?)”
"“Then they just started attacking me. They might have identified me as one of the protesters from earlier in the day.”" - Pawan Shukla, injured Jadavpur University student
Who were these people attacking you? Did you recognise any of them?
Pawan: From my observation, these were common people coming from the low-income section of society, people you would be able to hire for 200-300 bucks or a bottle of alcohol. They were not students. There were young people as well, but I don’t think they were from the campus. There were also people in the age group of 30 to 40 years. Many of them had a saffron cloth tied on their foreheads and were chanting “Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram.”
They were chanting “Jai Shri Ram”?
Pawan: Yes, and they were quite loud about it. That’s what was happening outside.
How did you react when you were being attacked? Did you retaliate and strike back?
Pawan: I couldn’t retaliate, I was surrounded by at least 50 to 60 people there. I could not do anything. It took me some time to figure out what is happening and what can happen. In between that, I had almost given up by then.
‘The Police Were Right There, but Did Not Help Me’
Pawan claims that the mob beat him for what felt like around 10 to 15 minutes. But even as he bled, he says that the police personnel who were nearby refused to come to his aid.
"“There were police personnel near me, and I asked them for help. But in vain. Eventually, some people who were not in favour of the goons, managed to get me away from them. They found a rickshaw for me and helped me exit the place.”" - Pawan Shukla
He went straight to the KPC Medical College and Hospital nearby. “I took the first aid, got the stitches, and then came back to the university. I spent some time with the students there and returned home after that.”
In the few hours since the clashes, pictures of an injured and bloodied Pawan have spread like wildfire on social media, and become a rallying point of sorts. Students at Jadavpur University have now called for a mass protest at 4 pm on Friday, 20 September. On the same day, solidarity protests have also been scheduled at Presidency University nearby, and at JNU in faraway Delhi.
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