West Bengal – MCDSA statement regarding attack by police on students of Calcutta Medical College

November 18, 2011

Please click here to read the statement in Bengali.

The events of 15th November, 2011, mark a deplorable attack on democratic rights of the citizens of West Bengal. A clearly partial administration, in explicit collusion with the police, was seen to terrorize and victimize peacefully agitating students in the Calcutta Medical College.

The origin of the problem lies in the disqualification of voting rights (in college students’ union elections) to 18 students who also happen to be members of the Medical College Democratic Students’ Association (MCDSA), a college based independent students’ group. This was done simply on the basis of some false allegations made by the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the students’ wing of the ruling party. Earlier, on November 4, the authorities had declared an all encompassing ban on political activities of all the student groups. The TMCP on November 14th alleged that 18 first year members of the MCDSA had arranged a picnic on November 6th in violation of the ban. The MCDSA representatives repeatedly informed the authorities that this picnic was an entirely a social get-together organized in the occasion of the holy id, and has no relation whatsoever with the upcoming elections and political campaigning. But the authorities refused to hear this defence and unilaterally removed these 18 students from the voters’ list, thus denying them their fundamental rights. This startled the student community and they decided to stage a protest in the college campus from November 15. It was during their peaceful agitation that the police decided to pounce upon them. Around 6:30 pm, 111 students (including 3 girls) were arrested and taken to the police head quarters in lal bazar, and each of them were accused in 3 false cases. After 333 false cases were registered, and the students were locked up till 1:30 in the night, they were finally released in personal bonds. During the entire period when the students were being heckled, threatened and mistreated by the police, the authorities kept themselves aloof about the entire horrifying incident.

We have a very simple question for the people of West Bengal, the college authorities and the Government: On one hand, the leader of the ruling party, who is also the chief minister, has promised to replace the prevalent partisanship in education by a democratic functioning and on the other hand is actually promoting the old CPIM principles – so where is the change? The free roaming around of outside TMCP leaders in the medical college campus before the elections, threatening of probable MCDSA candidates and their families, beating them up – do any of these actions corroborate the lofty claims of re-installation of democracy? We appeal to every democracy-loving individual and organization to stand beside us as we protest the unjust and undemocratic actions. We request the chief minister (who is also the health minister) to ensure return of a safe and democratic environment in the college and holding of free and fair students’ elections.

(Translated from Bengali by Suvarup Saha)