‘Don’t teach me…’: Irked, Mamata tells Left-wing students laying siege to TMC protest site in Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee had arrived at the protest venue moments ago after attending the 150th-anniversary celebrations of Kolkata Port Trust with PM Modi at Millennium Park near Howrah Bridge, when she found the left-leaning students laying siege to the TMC students’ wing’s protest venue.Updated: Jan 11, 2020 22:53 IST
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was caught among students affiliated to Left and far-Left unions - who had been carrying out rallies against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the city - when they laid siege around the site of the TMC youth wing’s sit-in demonstration at Esplanade in the heart of Kolkata on Saturday evening. The impasse ended around 9:30 pm after Banerjee delivered a long speech pacifying the agitating students.
Banerjee, who had earlier addressed the TMC demonstration before leaving to attend a light and sound show with PM Modi at Millennium Park near the iconic Howrah Bridge, was caught by surprise when she returned to find the dais virtually surrounded by the Left-wing students from Jadavpur University, Presidency University, Calcutta University and even Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute.
Shortly before Banerjee returned to the site, Left-aligned students had broken through three police barricades to reach the TMC students’ wing’s protest venue, leading to complete chaos.
Banerjee pleaded with the students to protest peacefully. “I plead with you. Carry on your demonstration. Let us carry out ours. There should not be any unrest.”
Since the Left-wing students were shouting slogans against the Delhi Police and the violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banerjee said, “If you want to express your anger against Delhi Police, go to Delhi. Kolkata Police is not Delhi Police.”
Without budging, the Left-minded students began shouting their ‘Azadi’ slogans. In return, Mamata and her supporters raised their no-NRC slogans. She seemed to be losing temper at one point in time. “Don’t teach me how to conduct a movement,” she shouted.
There was a huge police contingent at the spot and Banerjee was surrounded by her security personnel. Kolkata mayor and urban development minister Firhad Hakim was also present on the dais with her.
Some of the Jadavpur University students who gheraoed Babul Supriyo in September were also present in the gathering.
“I have nothing to say against your protests. You have all the right to protest. But I request you all to please maintain peace,” Banerjee appealed.
She led the chanting of, “Chhatra Oikyo Zindabaad (Long live the unity of students), “Andolone Gondogol Cholbe Na (Say no to trouble in protests) and Amra Sobai Shanti Chai (We all want peace).
At one point, Mamata Banerjee started shouting “CAA shame, shame,” while Leftist students chanted “Narendra Modi go back”. When the Leftist students shouted “Azadi” slogans, Mamata Banerjee chanted ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Jai Bangla’.
The stalemate continued for a while before things calmed down and Banerjee began addressing the students including the rival group.
“We have suspended six policemen who resorted to baton charge on Jadavpur University students during a demonstration.” She said pacifying the students, while referring to police action on students protesting the violence at JNU.
“The governor advised me to remove the Jadavpur University vice chancellor and take action against students after the incident in September. I did nothing because students have some rights too,” said Banerjee, while the students listened. Banerjee left the venue after pacifying the students at around 9.30pm.