A student is allegedly molested inside a university campus. The normal reaction of any functioning university management would be to conduct an enquiry. The normal reaction of any self-respecting police force would be to investigate the allegation. But neither an enquiry nor an investigation has taken place in the Jadavpur University (JU) case: Instead, vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakraborty accused the students of trying to kill him and the police descended on them on Tuesday night, triggering protests that snowballed into a rally on Wednesday afternoon.
On August 28, on the second night of ‘Sanskriti’, a cultural fest, a student was allegedly molested inside the university campus by a group of hostellers, and her male friend was beaten up. When she met the V-C the next day, Mr Chakraborty told her that he would need 15 days to act on the issue, and advised the victim to stay away from college for those days due to ‘security issues’. The victim was not told about the anti-sexual harassment cell, an independent body that does not work under the V-C’s supervision. Unhappy with the reaction of the V-C, she lodged an FIR on September 1 and even identified one of the accused. But the police did not do much. In the meanwhile, two JU representatives visited the victim and questioned her sobriety on the night of August 28, violating the Vishaka Guidelines that say that there should be no external pressure on the victim during the probe. There are also allegations that the Trinamool Congress supporters in and outside the university are threatening students.
At the time of going to press, the protests were on and the students have decided not to attend classes till Mr Chakraborty resigns. The V-C has gone on leave citing health issues. The allegations are of serious nature and instead of sitting quietly and allowing the events to take a more ugly turn, chief minister Mamata Banerjee should step in and announce an independent enquiry into the allegations.