Ban on Campus Democracy : Students' to Resist

On 29th October ’15, the Govt. of West Bengal has issued a circular deferring the elections of the students’ union of all colleges and universities of this state to June-July ’16. These elections are overdue by December ’15-January ’16. We strongly criticize this unscientific move of the WB Govt. Since coming to power in May ’11, we have experienced that this government has aimed to destroy the democratic sphere in all possible peripheries. The faces of this government, in various forms, have been an integral part of the conspiracy to loot the hard-earned democratic milieu of the educational institutions. In this tenure we have experienced that how any oppositions of the government policies have been attacked during collection and deposition of nomination forms, turning the students’ union elections to a mere farce. Even in very few institutes where the elections could be competed, the area nearby the colleges became no less than a warfront. The police and the administration has been mere spectators, sometimes actively helping these lumpen forces. Following the murder of a sub-inspector in broad daylight by these forces in a shootout during the students’ union elections of Harimohan Ghosh College (in February ’13), the WB govt. whimsically decided to suspend all the students’ union elections in the state for an indefinite period. We contested this undemocratic move, and organized a Civil Disobedience Movement on 2nd April. The rest is history. Our leader Com. Sudipto Gupta was brutally lynched to death in police custody, and the bloody sacrifice of the martyr forced the government to restore the democratic procedures in the campuses.

There are chiefly 2 loopholes if the students’ union elections are deferred to June-July.

o    In case a 3rd year student is being elected to be an office-bearer of the Students’ Union, he/she will remain in the office even after the completion of his/her course in the college.

o    As the admission procedures to the new session are not even initiated by June-July, so the Students’ Union thus formed can have no representation of the fresh 1st year students which they will serve throughout their tenure.

In protest against this unscientific and undemocratic move, 6 leftist students’ organizations (SFI, AISF, PSU, AISB, AIDSO, AISA) submitted a memorandum to the Minister of Education of the Govt. of West Bengal on 6th November asking him to rethink the decision. However, this did not bore fruit as we are living in a state of utter lawlessness, anarchy controlled by a despot.

Our comrades in Jadavpur University protested against this and asked the university authorities to declare elections immediately. In the wake of the united students’ movement led by SFI, the Executive Council of the Jadavpur University in its meeting held on 5th January 2016 accepted the demand and declared that the elections would be held in February 2016. However, on the very next day, the Department of Higher Education (University Branch), Government of West Bengal strictly rejected the university EC’s decision citing ‘public interest’ (‘various Board exams’) in a letter to the Vice Chancellor, and said that ‘no relaxation or exception was envisaged for individual institutions based on their individual circumstances and assessments’. Following this autocratic diktat, the JU authority reversed its decision making a U-turn. This again attracted the movement of the students. For 54 hours, the students demonstrated outside the Administrative Building and put up a moral blockade on the Vice Chancellor declaring that if the VC leaves, the decision would be seen as a hostile gesture. The demonstration was withdrawn on 10th January following the Governor’s (the ex-officio Chancellor) intervention to agree to meet the students and the Vice Chancellor in a tripartite meeting. However, no agreement could be reached and a huge rally has been organized on 18th January from Gariahat to Jadavpur in support of the demand.

2 February, 2016