West Bengal Student Beaten To Death; Political Blame Game Ensues

08/08/2015 2:07 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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OLKATA, INDIA - AUGUST 27: TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee is addressing the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad foundation day celebration at Mayo Road on August 27, 2013 in Kolkata, India. West Bengal Chief Minister urged India's younger generation to use the internet to communicate and unite against the Congress-led anti-people government at the centre. (Photo by Subhendu Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A 21-year-old college student has been allegedly beaten to death in West Bengal's West Midnapore district during a clash between student unions on Friday afternoon. The violence escalated after some students protested against attending a compulsory relief distribution programme where state minister Soumen Kumar Mahapatra was to be felicitated.

A state-wide strike has been called today by the Chhatra Parishad (CP) and Students’ Federation of India (SFI) on the issue.

According to the police complaint, Krishna Prasad Jana, a third year student of Sajanikanta Mahavidyalaya was a member of the Congress students' wing Chhatra Parishad (CP). The CP has alleged in the police report that some students from the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) had beaten up Jana with sticks and cricket bats inside the union room. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead.

“We have collected CCTV footage from the college administration, which is yet to be examined. The college has been currently locked down till further notice,” a police officer told The Indian Express.

The TMCP too has filed a police complaint against CP students for attacking them.

While local police officials have arrested three persons so far, the incident has sparked outrage in the area. While some Congress workers reportedly blocked roads in the area, others locked up the college principal Dr Kanailal Paria. “It happened very suddenly. I heard a commotion. There had been many outsiders as admission process was on so it was difficult to identify students from offenders who were outsiders,” Indian Express quoted Paria saying.

Meanwhile Professor Ranjan Kumar Auddy said, “I was in the class when I heard a loud noise. I saw a student being beaten up and later, being carried away by some students. I could not identify those who were beating him."

Political Blame Game

The local Congress MLA, Manas Bhuniya, blamed Trinamool Congress for the incident.

“TMC leaders Tarun Mishra and Bipul Maity, who used to be CPM workers, had led the attack along with several outsiders," he alleged. "They had locked the union room and when Jana went to protest, they attacked and killed him. It goes on to prove the prevailing lawlessness in the state and the kind of insecurity we are living in."

Trinamool Congress has meanwhile denied the charges, with state chief minister Mamata Banerjee backing her party workers. Calling it a "most unfortunate" incident, she told reporters, “It is a sad incident. I strictly condemn it. I have asked the police to inquire into it and take stern action."

However, she blamed CP for Jana's death. “The student was killed inside the college union room which was locked. The union is of Chhatra Parishad, and not of TMCP. The incident took place due to a scuffle among the CP students in which Jana got hit,” said Banerjee.

Meanwhile state TMCP president Ashok Rudra, said, “The incident is sad and we condemn it. But TMCP students are not involved in it. The clash was the result of an internal feud within the Chhatra Parishad.”

The Left parties too took the opportunity to hit out at the state government. While Left Front state chairman Biman Bose condemned the incident, claiming that Jana's death showed the "lawlessness in Bengal", state CPM secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra urged people to protest against Trinamool.

“As a mark of protest, we urge people from all around to put up a protest in whatever form they can. If this is not done, the TMCP-sponsored atrocities will never end,” he said.

BJP too did not miss the chance to take a dig at the state government, with MLA Samik Bhattacharya claiming that it exposed TMC to be a group of violent goons rather than a credible political party. "Without an inquiry, how can Mamata Banerjee say TMC workers are not involved? There must be a CBI probe into this case," said BJP's Siddharth Nath Singh.

Meanwhile state education minister Partha Chatterjee said that he has instructed the district administration to ascertain who was to blame for the incident.

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