The West Bengal government announced on Monday a probe into the alleged sexual harassment of a Jadavpur University (JU) student following a week of protests, but protesters rejected the move as tempers flared over a Facebook post by chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhijit Banerjee criticising the stir.
Thousands of students poured onto the streets of Kolkata on Saturday, demanding a probe into the incident, but the government’s decision to set up of a five-member committee failed to calm the students who are also demanding the resignation of the JU vice-chancellor.
Anger mounted on Monday as students and opposition leaders said Abhijit Banerjee’s Facebook comment seemed to be mocking the protests.
“The students are agitating as there has been a crackdown against consumption of booze, ganja and charas on the Jadavpur University campus,” Banerjee’s post said.
Opposition politicians lashed out at Banerjee’s comment, saying the issue had been politicised.
“First they said Maoists were behind the incident. When they found thousands of students from all campuses were joining the agitation, they shifted that stance,” said state BJP president Rahul Sinha.
“Now they have found TMC is losing support on this question, and, therefore, they are resorting to such allegations. It has become a fight between the government and the students.”
CPI(M) leader Mohammed Selim said the Facebook statement was an attempt to malign the movement. “They can’t think of anything beyond alcohol,” he added.
Students said they would intensify their protests while some former students announced plans to organise a protest march in different cities across the world on Thursday.
Amit Chakroborty, a former student leader of the university, is coordinating the global march, which will be held in New York, Sydney, Berlin, Singapore, London, Orlando, Atlanta, Melbourne, Boston, Paris and Dubai.