We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal and unprecedented police atrocities unleashed on protesting students of Jadavpur University on the night of 16-17th. Police in uniform and bouncers in plain dress accompanied by goons of the ruling Trinamool Congress severely beat up students who were demonstrating peacefully. Several of them had to be hospitalized and tens of them have broken knees, arms, fingers. Several have back, shoulder and body bruises (from baton charging and boot kicks). Women students were openly manhandled, groped, molested, dragged, kicked on their stomach, stomped by boots, punched, walked over by male police and male bouncers. Some had their dresses torn. Some had their glasses broken, some had their laptop thrashed, phones broken and even rape threats were given to women as police turned off lights in the portico where students were protesting. Fifteen women students have filed FIRs detailing the violence unleashed on them. One female student was dragged by her hair while her dress was lifted and she was thrown into the police van by 4 bouncers in civil dress in presence of no women constables/policemen.
This brutal violence came as a crackdown on a one-week long peaceful sit-in demonstration by the Jadavpur University students, demanding a fair and unbiased probe and punishment of perpetrators (already identified but not arrested prima facie or expelled from the hostel/university) in a case of molestation of a female student on 28th August in the university premises. The affected student filed both a sexual harrasment complaint with the University’s Internal Complaints Committee and an FIR with the Jadavpur Police Station. More than fifteen days have passed but neither of the complaints have led to any redressal. Furthermore, members of the ICC allegedly indulged in vitim-blaming by asking the affected student about her dress and state of sobriety on the day of the incident. The JU authorities are treating the molestation case as one of ‘indiscipline’ and not gender violence! This has lead to them bringing rules for tightening surveillance on campus!
Members of the AIPWA had written to the Vice-Chancellor on September 8, reminding him ‘that the university is duty-bound to provide and ensure a safe and free environment for all its women students where they would not feel vulnerable or intimidated in any manner and where their fullest freedom will be upheld’ and urged him, with a set of demands, ‘to act fast specifically in the recent matter, and generally to restore a woman-friendly, safe and free, gender-just campus.’ But clearly the university authorities took no heed of either the women’s voices or the students’ voices. We demand punishment of not just the molesters but also the policemen and bouncers who brutalized the students who were peacefully protesting for gender justice, and for zero tolerance to gender violence on their campus. We strongly condemn the role of the Vice-chancellor and the Police minister who must own up responsibility of such brazen and brutal atrocities. We urge everyone to stand in solidarity with the students, till the goal is reached.
Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA
Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA