Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh came under fire on Tuesday from students, civil society members, and political parties after he questioned whether it was blood or paint that was smeared on the forehead of Aishe Ghosh, JNU students’ union president who was attacked Sunday night.
“We are yet to know whether it was blood or some red paint that was smeared on the forehead. It has not been examined yet. The JNU incident could be staged,” said Ghosh, adding that students were hitting the streets every day for this incident and sacrificing their studies.
Aishe suffered head injuries after she was allegedly hit with an iron rod by masked goons on the campus on Sunday evening following which she had to be rushed to the AIIMS trauma centre for treatment.
On Tuesday, Aishe’s mother Sharmistha Ghosh also participated in a rally jointly organized jointly by the trade unions of Congress and the CPI (M) at Durgapur in West Burdwan district, Aishe’s hometown.
“I feel ashamed to comment on such statements. But we need to think twice whether we should allow our children to continue their studies in JNU till the time such a vice chancellor is heading the university,” said Sharmistha Ghosh, when told about Diip Ghosh’s comments.
“I would urge Dilip Ghosh to be a little more humane,” said Partha Chatterjee, state education minister, adding that he had briefed the chief minister about the baton charge on students of Jadavpur University by the police on Monday evening.
Following this, Police Commissioner of Kolkata Anuj Sharma said that police should exercise extreme restraint while dealing with student agitations.
Protests by students and the civil society against the JNU incident continued in Kolkata for the second consecutive day with students from various colleges and universities organizing a road rally in south Kolkata that culminated at Nizam Palace, which houses several central government offices. A separate rally was organized in central Kolkata, which was attended by politicians, members of the civil society and students without any political banner.
“A person, who can say that the JNU incident could be staged and the bandage on Aishe’s incident was fake, is either insane or a devil. Dilip Ghosh is both,” said Kaushik Sen, an actor, who participated in the rally.
“When the entire country saw how Aishe Ghosh was brutally attacked, he (Dilip Ghosh) has raised questions. He doesn’t value blood. This is expected of him,” said Sukanya Debnath, a student walking in the protest rally.
Meanwhile, Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar took to twitter accusing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (without naming her) of maintaining a “selective approach” after she condemned the mob attack in JNU.
“Acts of violence, anarchy in educational institutions is worrisome and should not be tolerated. Silence of those in authority (who severely condemned JNU violence) over what happened at Jadavpur University a fortnight ago is painfully worrisome,” Dhankhar tweeted.
Banerjee on Sunday night had tweeted to condemn the attack on JNU students and had even sent a team led by Dinesh Trivedi, former MP to Delhi to show solidarity with the students.
“The position of Chancellor (of Jadavpur University) was compromised by omission and inaction of state and university authorities. Why this selective approach to violence and disruption on JU campus. Fire at home ought to be first priority. Am sure there will be soul searching,” Dhankhar said in his second tweet.
Meanwhile, the BJP organized a rally in south Kolkata in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Some of the BJP supporters were arrested as police said that no permission was given for the rally.
The Left and the Congress has called for a strike on Wednesday to protest against the CAA and NRC. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, said that her party supports the issue but does not support the strike. The state government has also made attendance in government offices mandatory to counter the strike.
The Calcutta High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation, has also directed the state government to ensure that the citizens do not face any inconvenience on account of the strike.