Kolkata: The case of alleged manhandling of Union Minister for Forests and Environment Babul Supriyo has taken a murkier turn. The students accused of thrashing the minister have now turned around to accuse him of hooliganism and his guards of molesting some girl students.
The turn of events is surprising not because it is a counter-allegation in response to an allegation but because the affair had taken a humanitarian turn after which the two sides were expected to reconcile their differences. While Babul Supriyo had earlier uploaded on Facebook and Twitter an image of a young man pulling his hair, requesting people to identify the person, the student’s ailing mother appeared on social media too, requesting the minister to forgive her son.
চিন্তা করবেন না মাসিমা – আমি কোনো ক্ষতি করবো আপনার ছেলের !! ওর ভুল থেকে ও শিক্ষা নিক এটাই চাই ! আমি নিজে কারো বিরুদ্ধে কোনো FIR তো করিইনি – কারোকে করতেও দিইনি – আপনি দুশ্চিন্তা করবেন না – তাড়াতাড়ি সেরে উঠুন মাসিমা !
আমার প্রণাম নেবেন ? pic.twitter.com/6YBgpKPqpo
— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) September 21, 2019
To this, the minister had assured her that he was not filing a complaint against anybody and that he had appealed to ABVP-affiliated students who were on his side to not lodge any complaint with the police either.
Now the student accused of hitting Babul Supriyo, Debanjan Ballav, has lodged an FIR alleging that the minister had turned violent and his guards molested some girl students of the Jadavpur University during the standoff between activists of ABVP and SFI.
A hand-written statement in Bangla signed purportedly by Debanjan reached the media today (image attached). The letter says that when Babul came to attend a function at the university on 19 September, a few students asked him some questions on the NRC issue. It says the minister then turned violent. The minister and ABVP activists jostled with some boys while the guards molested some girl students, the letter alleges.
The minister grabbed a student by his neck and abused him, says the letter. It says that the image uploaded on social media by the minister is a misrepresentation of facts. It accuses the “IT cell of the BJP” of such “mischief”. is doing the same. The minister’s appeal to identify the student who allegedly manhandled him is his bid to get the student “mob-lynched”, the letter alleges, appealing all “democratic people” to stand by him. An FIR, the fifth one pertaining to the case, has been filed at the local police station; it contains the same allegation.
Babul Supriyo had but not posted stills of the incident alone. The minister had uploaded on social media a video, too, the scenes of which do not authenticate Debanjan’s allegations.
In the meantime, the TMC continues to sound equanimous about the incident. The ruling party commented again today following the second statement from the Raj Bhavan on Friday. It said, “We are sticking to our position… Students who have committed harassment and vandalism will be punished… The administration has taken steps for peace… We wish the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellor a speedy recovery.”
It may be noted that Babul Supriyo had said on Thursday that he had gone through “extreme torture” and that it showed that the law and order situation in EWest Bengal had collapsed. Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress general secretary Partho Chatterjee said Babul Supriyo’s Jadavpur University visit was not a right decision. The governor’s office has reacted strongly to Chatterjee’s statement.
“It is unfortunate that the Trinamool secretary issued a press release yesterday, saying that the governor should have informed the government before going to university,” the Friday statement from the Raj Bhavan said, adding, “This is a lie.”
With this letter, the Trinamool government and the governor’s office are clearly seen to be on a warpath.
BJP leader Mukul Roy issued a statement on Friday, too, after meeting with Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh had accompanied him to the Raj Bhavan. Emerging from the Raj Bhavan, Roy said, “The kind of courage the honourable governor displayed yesterday was outstanding. He went to the university without the protection of either the police commissioner or the director-general of police. There were not only students but also outsiders at the campus. The way Babul Supriyo has been heckled is a matter of shame for democracy. I have reported to the governor details of the anarchy that prevails in Bengal now.”
Meanwhile, BJP’s Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh has identified Debanjan as not a student of the Jadavpur University but one of the Sanskrit College. While this turns out to be a fact by the student’s own admission, Ghosh trained his guns at the university authorities, too. He said, “We have all the details. The vice-chancellor and the pro-VC pretended to have fallen ill and got themselves hospitalised.”
The rank and file of the state BJP are in no mood to call a truce. Party leader Sayantan Bose has threatened the communist students of retaliation.
BJP leader Agnimitra Paul has alleged that she was harassed along with Babul Supriyo at Jadavpur University. She had filed a complaint with the Jadavpur police station on Friday. Sirf News had reported the four FIRs that had been lodged at the said thana yesterday including the one by Paul.