Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta on Wednesday claimed he was locked in a room at Visva Bharati University in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, and surrounded by a mob.
Dasgupta, a well-known columnist, was at the university to address a meeting on the Citizenship Amendment Act. He is a vocal supporter of the law that was approved by Parliament on December 11. It provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
“How does it feel to have a mob attack a peaceful meeting on CAA and intimidate students?” he asked. “This is what is happening to a meeting I am addressing at Vishwa Bharati now. Locked into room now with mob outside.”
Dasgupta was referring to the mob violence at Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5 in which at least 34 students and teachers were injured. The JNU Students’ Union has blamed the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is the student affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The protests were led by the Students’ Federation of India, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The organisation’s leader at Visva Bharati, Somnath Sau, told PTI that the students would not allow anyone who “promotes hatred among communities” to spread propaganda on the soil of the university that, he said, stands for the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore. “We will continue our protests against the BJP and forces of the Hindutva,” he added.
Later, as the protests cooled down, the columnist told the media that the event was not a party programme, ANI reported. Before the event, Dasgupta had tweeted a poster in which students were urged to boycott his lecture series. “I assure everyone that attending the seminar is totally voluntary,” he said. “People with open minds very welcome.”
At least 26 people died in violence during last month’s protests against the citizenship law. Of these, 19 people died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.