Posters supporting executed convicts Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon appeared inside Jadavpur University on Wednesday morning, along with scribbled signs with messages such as “Azad Kashmir”, “Azad Nagaland”, and “Azad Manipur”.
The posters bore the signature of RADICAL, an ultra-Left student outfit. These were subsequently torn by a rival group of students shouting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
The university in south Kolkata is besieged with widespread protests after the arrest of a Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader for sedition.
Students were accusing the BJP-led NDA government of strangling free speech, and putting up posters and shouting incendiary slogans in defiance.
The posters appeared on the campus after anti-India slogans were heard there the previous evening and the Union home ministry sought a report from the West Bengal government.
Guru and Memon, hanged for the roles in the 2001 Parliament attack and the 1993 Mumbai bombings respectively, have become the rallying point for students trying to assert their right to freedom of expression. As did Kashmir, Nagaland and Manipur where separatists were fighting for independence.
Jadavpur University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das condemned anti-national slogans but won’t file a police complaint or call policemen to the campus.
“It is my responsibility to protest free speech. I met student leaders who told me they did not organise the rally on Tuesday. But some students were seen there. I will call and talk to them, make them understand. There were some outsiders too,” Das said.
He dismissed Tuesday’s slogans as the handiwork of “fringe elements”.
A police officer said the university incident was being “thoroughly investigated” as the BJP and Left parties have sought an answer from the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The students remained defiant. “We support the democratic struggle of the Kashmiri people for freedom. There is nothing wrong in talking about it. We uphold people’s right to democratically condemn the policy on Kashmir,” said Nilim
Basu, a student of film studies and a leader of RADICAL.
The BJP said that those who raised anti-India slogans at the university deserved a “good thrashing”.
“It’s a shame that students raised anti-India slogans. It is only after a good thrashing that they will understand the true value of nationalism,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.