Left-leaning students attacked inside Visva-Bharati campus at night, 2 held

Santiniketan (WB), Jan 16 (PTI) Armed with rods and sticks, a group of men attacked the students of a boys' hostel inside the Visva-Bharati university campus on Wednesday night leaving several of them injured, police said on Thursday.

Two persons - identified as Achintya Bagdi and Saber Ali - were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the attack, an officer of Santiniketan police station said.

An SFI member was hospitalised and several others suffered minor injuries in the attack that took place a week after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta was heckled by Left- leaning students after he came to deliver a lecture on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act last week.

'Two groups of students clashed inside the campus. It was not linked to politics. The security officer and others went there to sort out the matter,' the central university's Public Relations Officer Anirban Sarkar said.

When produced before a Bolpur court, Bagdi and Ali were remanded to nine days' police custody.

Assistant Public Prosecutor of Bolpur court Phiroj Pal said, 'An incident happened last night at Visva-Bharati. Two students were allegedly assaulted. On the basis of a complaint, police arrested the two.' Claiming that Bagdi and Ali are former students of the university, SFI Visva-Bharati unit leader Somnath Sau alleged that a group of outsiders beat up Swapnanil Mukhopadhyay and several other members of the SFI and other Left-leaning students with rods and sticks at around 11:30 pm on Wednesday.

Mukhopadhyay was treated at a hospital located within the campus and discharged later.

Sau alleged that the attackers said the assault was a fallout of the demonstration the Left students held during Dasgupta's visit to the campus January 8.

Dasgupta, Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and others had to remain confined for around eight hours to a building of the central university outside which hundreds of Left-leaning students staged a sit-in, accusing the politician of promoting hatred among communities.

Sau claimed that Bagdi - one of the two arrested - was earlier a leader of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad but is now associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

ABVP Birbhum district coordinator Ramesh Paramanik, however, said, 'Neither Achintya Bagdi nor Saber Ali are associated with the ABVP anyway. It is known to all that they lead the TMCP at the Visva-Bharati.' Alleging that the SFI was responsible for the fracas, the ABVP claimed that some of its members were first attacked by the SFI and threatened them not to carry out any activity in the campus.

Admitting that Bagdi is a leader of the TMCP, its district president Suranjan Chatterjee said, 'A group of outsiders, probably from the Jadavpur University, tried to enter a boys' hostel with the help of Left-leaning students of the Visva Bharati and our workers protested.' West Bengal Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said the ABVP has been carrying out attacks in institutes in the country to suppress democratic protests and the incident at Visva Bharati is the latest instance.

Violence had broken out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on the night of January 5, as armed masked men attacked students and teachers and damaged property on the campus. The ABVP and the Left students' bodies are blaming each other for the incident.

A senior teacher of Visva-Bharati said, members of the Left-leaning faculty will meet soon to chalk out a protest programme against the violence at the campus of the university, which espouses the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore.

The SFI organised protest rallies in Kolkata during the day to protest against the attack on students of Visva- Bharati. PTI SUS COR NN NN