No CCTV proof; Kolkata college blames ‘outsiders’ for desecration of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust
Two CCTV cameras are installed outside the building on College Street (now Bidhan Sarani) and one is in the room where the Vidyasagar bust, made of Plaster of Paris, was kept inside a glass box.Updated: May 16, 2019 07:24 IST
Amid rallies to protest the desecration of Bengal renaissance icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s bust and demands that closed circuit television footage of Tuesday’s vandalism be made public, it has emerged that CCTV cameras in Vidyasagar College have not been functioning for the past two months.
Two CCTV cameras are installed outside the building on College Street (now Bidhan Sarani) and one is in the room where the Vidyasagar bust, made of Plaster of Paris, was kept inside a glass box. “The cameras have not been functioning over the past two months due to repair work of electrical fittings,” said Sanu Makal, president of the college unit of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (students’ union) and a third-year student of Humanities.
“We have filed a police complaint. No student of the college was involved in the vandalism. It was the handiwork of outsiders. The CCTV cameras have not been functioning for the past two months. But other footages have surfaced that show outsiders storming the campus,” said college principal Gautam Kundu.
A second-year student has also filed a police complaint with the Amherst police station. On Tuesday, during a roadshow by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, the bust was damaged by vandals who stormed the 147-year-old institution established by Vidyasagar.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological fount, demanded that the CCTV footage of the vandalism be made public. “We strongly condemn the vandalism of the bust. Whoever may have been behind it, must be acted against,” said Saptarshi Sarkar, the ABVP state unit secretary.
The ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP have been accusing each other of orchestrating the attack. The Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad (TMCP) has released three videos showing people who appear to be participants in Shah’s Tuesday roadshow, trying to break open the iron gates of the college.
According to students of the college, only seven students, two teachers and three security guards were on campus at the time of the incident.
ccording to TMCP treasurer Somnath Das, who was present at the time of the incident alleged, “Two iron gates at the entrance of the campus were locked with chains. Participants in Amit Shah’s rally broke the chains hit them with bricks and batons, while some others entered the campus by scaling the railing...We all took shelter inside the building. They then broke the wooden door of the room, where Vidyasagar’s bust was. Besides vandalising the room, they also set fire to motorbikes at the entrance.”
Meanwhile, ABVP’s Twitter handle shared a screenshot of a Facebook post of one Biraj Narayan Roy, who claimed to be a student living in the vicinity. His post claimed he saw that the gate was locked and there was no way for participants in Shah’s rally to reach the statue. But TMC workers later pointed out that Roy passed out of the college in 2014 and now stayed in Santiniketan.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a march from Kolkata Gandhi Bhavan in Beliaghata to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s statue at Shyam Bazaar to protest against the vandalisation.
Thousands carrying framed photographs of Bengali icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, participated in the march.