Women were allegedly molested and BJP leader Roopa Ganguly was blocked from entering Jadavpur University in Kolkata after student factions clashed over the screening of a controversial Bollywood film on Friday night.
Students from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is affliated to the RSS, and activists of Left-backed student unions allegedly fought with each other over the campus screening of Vivek Agnihotri’s film ‘Buddha In A Traffic Jam’.
Alleging that four of the organisers had molested female students, the left-leaning students affiliated to FETSU confined them inside the campus.
Tension increased after dusk as ABVP activists collected outside the university gate and shouted slogans demanding the four be rescued and handed over to them.
Ganguly, an actress-turned-politician, filed a complaint at the Jadavpur police station that the four people--invited for the screening of the award-winning film--were beaten up and wrongly confined on a false accusation.
“We have come to take the four of our invitees safely home. They have been beaten up. They are in a bad condition. We will wait for ten minutes. And then our people will take one minute to climb the gates and enter the campus,” said BJP leader Debasree Chowdhury.
As the situation threatened to go out of control, with a huge collapsible gate separating the BJP-ABVP activists and the students, Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das rushed to the university in a taxi and pleaded with the two sides to maintain peace.
Das met the students a number of times but his attempts to bring the four out failed twice. He finally succeeded on his third attempt as the registrar and other officials with the help of the security personnel brought them out of the campus.
“Three ABVP activists and a professor of Bangabasi College were confined. One of the activists was senseless. Three have been hospitalised,” said ABVP state secretary Souvik Haldar.
“We have filed a case seeking those who tortured and confined them be punished. We will expect action. We will organise a movement on this issue,” he added.
The movie’s screening, organised by a group “Think India” backed by the ABVP, was scheduled at the varsity’s Triguna Sen auditorium, but the university’s alumni association cancelled the screening on Friday morning citing poll code violation.
Despite the protests and cancellation, an open-air screening was held in the varsity’s football grounds close to the auditorium.
However, the varsity’s assistant registrar requested the showing be stopped, said Agnihotri, who was shown black flags by the students.
“We started the screening and I asked the leader of the protest to have a cup of tea with me. Then the assistant registrar came from somewhere and asked us to stop the screening. I don’t know what kind of a university it is, they can’t even decide whether the film can be shown or not shown,” Agnihotri told IANS.
Asked why there were protests against his film, Agnihotri said: “Because for the first time in 70 years somebody has dared to expose the Naxal-academia-intellectuals-media nexus.”
However, students protesting against Agnihotri said his movie, which stars BJP supporter Anupam Kher, has “divisive content”.
“We all know Kher’s views in the whole debate on whatever happened in JNU. He is acting in this film which has divisive content. We are protesting against that,” said Sounak Mukherjee, a first year MA student of English Department. Mukherjee was referring to Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University where student union leaders have been charged with sedition for alleged “anti-national” activities.
Inspired by Agnihotri’s own life, “Buddha In A Traffic Jam” deals with corruption and Maoism in a business school. It had attracted controversy when its screening was sought to be cancelled at JNU due to the volatile atmosphere there in the wake of the sedition charges levelled against some students.
However, the film was later screened in JNU with Kher, a critic of the students agitation, in attendance.
(with inputs from PTI and IANS)