Four days after being shamed on social media for allegedly misbehaving with a woman during a feminist campaign, an MPhil student of Jadavpur University was found missing from the hostel on Friday.
Sushil Mandi, who hails from Dhaniakhali in Hooghly district, had taken part in the campaign organised on campus by two Left-wing outfits in the run up to the student council elections. On the morning of February 2, Mandi moved out of the hostel early in the morning, leaving all his belongings, including his mobile phone, in his room. His family members lodged a missing complaint at Jadavpur police station on Friday.
Copies of the social media posts which accused him of molestation were filed with the police complaint. The alleged victim, however, has yet to lodge a complaint with either the police or the university authorities.
University authorities, though, have informed the police.
However, a section of the students also pointed out that Mandi was politically active and was arrested, It is unlikely that his disappearance had anything to do with public shaming on social media, they said.
According to Mandi’s friends, he is associated with a student outfit named Radical, which went into an alliance with another outfit United Students’ Democratic Front (USDF) – both Marxist-leaning, according to the police – ahead of the JU students’ council election held on January 25.
“Radical and USDF called for a joint movement on January 14 to break all the locks of ladies’ toilets on the campus. It was perceived as a feminist move because the JU authorities used to keep the ladies’ toilets on the campus locked after 6pm, while the gents toilets were kept open, simply to discourage girls from staying on the campus after sundown. The woman, who is member of neither organisation, joined the programme but later told some of those who took part in the campaign that Mandi touched her inappropriately during the lock-breaking campaign,” said a student of film studies’ department. The woman is a student of this department.
Following heated arguments between the two outfits over the charges against Mandi, the woman made a social media post on January 20 naming the two outfits. USDF later posted a statement on social media on January 28, naming Mandi, and claiming that they were in favour of proper inquiry over the charges.
HT could not speak to the woman who took to social media to lodge her protest. Her post was deleted. USDF sided with the woman and circulated a statement claiming that the attempt to link Mandi’s disappearance to their social media post was an “attempt to silence” the victim.
Mandi’s friends in Radical have alleged that he was targeted because of his tribal background.
Mandi passed from JU as an engineering graduate in 2009 and got a job, but enrolled for MPhil in linguistics at the university in 2014. He has been closely associated with Left student politics for more than a decade.
He was a regular participant in various agitation programmes including feminist campaigns.