Monday, January 30, 2023

Jadavpur students not baton charged: police chief

Kolkata, Sep 18 (IANS) Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha Thursday asserted the demonstrating Jadavpur University students were not baton charged, and said the force lawfully escorted the university officials who were apprehensive of their security after being confined by the students to the university premises.

Addressing a press conference, he also asserted the presence of “outsiders, carrying arms” among the demonstrating students and claimed 11 police personnel were injured in the melee.

Political parties, including the CPI-M and the Congress, have slammed Purakayastha for his “blatant lies”.

Many students of the prestigious university had to be hospitalised after police allegedly beat them up early Wednesday for laying siege to vice chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarty’s office while seeking a fresh inquiry into the purported sexual harassment of a female student on the campus last month.

Purakayastha said: “Normally police do not enter any academic premise on their own unless there is a request, and in this case the vice chancellor made repeated distress calls saying they were under threat and wanted to be rescued. Accordingly, police went there and tried to negotiate with the students.”

“When nothing worked, the VC along with other officials, including females who were feeling sick and wanted to be rescued, were escorted outside the premises. There is no question of any lathicharge as none of the personnel carried any lathi (baton),” he added.

Showing video footages to the media, the police commissioner also claimed that there was no evidence to show the students were baton charged or assaulted. He said there were reports that some outsiders with arms had mingled with the demonstrating students.

“We had reports that certain outsiders armed with certain weapons have mingled with the students and also were hovering around the university premises,” said Purakayastha, who also rejected allegations that male security personnel “molested” and manhandled many female students.

He said: “The police were extremely patient and, in fact, they were assaulted, abused and provoked by the students. As many as 11 of our men received injuries. There are no reports that female students were manhandled since sufficient number of female police personnel and senior officers were present.”

“Everything was done as per the law and as per the call of the duty.”

However, political parties have slammed the police chief for denying the crackdown was violent.

“The police may be justified in rescuing the VC who made distress calls, pleading for his life, but the police commissioner’s blatant lie that the force did not lathicharge cannot be justified. When he is claiming there were outsiders among the students, how many of them have been arrested and how many weapons seized?” asked CPI-M leader Sujon Chakrabarty.

Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said: “Thanks to the media, the whole world has seen how the police have been inhumanly assaulting the students. Only a tout of the (ruling) Trinamool Congress can deny that. If the police did everything legally as they claim, why did they have to pounce on the students, that too after switching off the lights.”

Students and political parties have upped their ante, seeking removal of the vice chancellor. They are also taking out marches to condemn the police crackdown, which has been criticised by all.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) women’s wing took out a condemnation rally demanding Chakrabarty’s removal, while Leftist student unions called for a state wide strike in all educational institutions Thursday to protest the police crackdown.

Wednesday, students, teachers and eminent personalities took out a march in the city, condemning the incident and demanding Chakarabarty’s removal as the VC.

Uploading videos of the crackdown on social networking sites, students claimed policemen, including “outsiders”, assaulted them that left many injured, and said the force members also molested some female students.

According to KPC Medical College and Hospital, nine students injured in the assault were admitted in the facility.

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