A professor of Kolkata’s Jadavpur University was attacked by a few Bharatiya Janata Party activists on Monday after she protested against disparaging remarks that the party made about the institution and the Muslim community during a street meeting, while a well-known photographer was attacked in a different part of the city for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the National Register of Citizens.
Department of English Assistant Professor Doyeeta Majumdar wrote on Facebook that on her way back from an anti-Citizenship Act rally she saw a group of activists from the saffron party campaigning near the campus. “The saffron speaker was spewing naked hate speech against Muslims for a good few minutes, then turned and pointed at the campus and started saying ‘this university is the root of all evil, they all chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ every day,” Majumdar wrote. “I snorted out loud, and shouted ‘mithye kotha [lies]’, twice. That is all it took.”
Within seconds, a few middle-aged BJP women activists allegedly started hitting the academic and pushing her down. “A young man tried to protest, he was roughed up too,” Majumdar added. “Ultimately I was dragged, kicking and screaming, by two [presumably BJP] men who kept saying ‘Didi ar jhamela baraben na, chole jan, chole jan [Sister, do not create any more trouble, please leave]’.”
Majumdar said she was not injured. “But that this could happen to me in Jadavpur, where I live and work, at the hands of middle-aged, middle-class women, is a sign of the times we live in,” the professor added. “If you think this will not happen to you, you are really, really deluded.”
Majumdar said she had lodged a first information report, ending her post with calls rejecting the new citizenship law, and the National Register of Citizens, which is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants.
However, the BJP dismissed the professor’s allegations. BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, Lok Sabha MP from Bongaon Shantanu Thakur, and senior state BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya were present at the meeting, PTI reported. “As we were conducting a meeting, some supporters of ultra-Left parties came near the venue and started raising slogans,” Bhattacharya claimed. “They even pushed our cadres. But we maintained restraint. None of our cadres were involved in any assault.”
Meanwhile, photographer and filmmaker Ronny Sen told The Hindu that he had been threatened by a person identified as Avijit Dasgupta, who prefers to describe himself as “a Hindu nationalist”, on several occasions.
“Last night I was attacked with a ‘bhojali [machete]’, which is a weapon to kill, in front of Bidhannagar College in Salt Lake, Calcutta,” he wrote on Instagram. “I am safe and unhurt. Immediately I lodged a police complaint last night. It’s such a revelation that attacking, killing, shooting, people in the name of nationalism is so normal in today’s India.”
Students and many staff members of Jadavpur University have been active in the protests against the Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizens since police violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University.
Last week, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was forced to turn back from the university by protestors, when he reached the campus to attend the convocation ceremony. Some of the protestors waved black flags at Dhankhar and asked him to “go back”, while some held up placards that read “No NRC, no CAA”.