Fight Till the End

This wasn’t the first time that organizations like the students’ federation of India and the democratic youth federation of India took to the streets demanding that the TET be conducted transparently and that proper investigations be made into the various allegations surrounding the exam. The School Services Commission (SSC) was set up during the left front rule in the state and was responsible for conducting the Teachers’ Entrance Test (TET). Prior to 2011, this exam was conducted hassle-free every year. Ever since the TMC government has taken over the state, not once has the exam been conducted without being surrounded by controversy. There have been allegations that those close to the ruling party have gotten appointments even though they did not qualify the test. In 2014, a WBCS officer brought to the fore the corruption associated with the entire process of teacher appointments. In the past six years, papers have been leaked, candidates have paid their way to get an appointment and a hapless youth was forced to end their life succumbing to the pressures of unemployment.

On 9th March, 2017 once again the leftist student and youth organizations marched to the Raj Bhawan to submit a deputation to the governor, demanding that the TET be conducted transparently and that official enquiries be made into the allegations of malpractice surrounding the SSC and the TET. This was a peaceful rally, with numerous youths and students participating. The rally began from College Square and culminated at Raj Bhawan. That day's programme had been conducted successfully and without any unforseen situation arising. As the gathering began dispersing, the police and the comrades got involved in an altercation, following which the police mercilessly beat up the young comrades present there. Over 15 comrades sustained heavy injuries and had to be rushed to various hospitals all over the city. The police did not merely stop at that, they arrested 111 student and youth comrades and took them away to Lal bazar Police station. Comrades who were present there that day, complained that the police had an aggressive attitude right from the beginning of the programme that day. On 9th, March, 2017, 111 student and youth comrades were kept in the lock up at Lal bazar Police station, overnight. They refused to take bail since the comrades argued (and rightly so) that they weren't in the wrong. The police's role in the entire series of events up until then had been deplorable. Next afternoon when all the comrades were produced at Bankshal Court, randomly 8 comrades (both student and youth activists) were charged with non-bailable offences and were taken into custody till 13th March, 2017. It seemed that the authorities were trying to make an example out of our comrades of sorts. The comrades who were taken into custody included, Com. Sayandeep Mitra , Com. Indrajit Ghosh, Com. Madhuja Sen Roy among others.

Following the indiscriminate attack by the police on the peaceful gathering on Thursday and the arrest of over 100 comrades, protests broke out all over the state calling out the injudicious role of the state police in dealing with the protesting comrades. Further, when the rest of the comrades were released on 10th March, 2017 while 8 comrades were wrongfully detained, impromptu protest demonstrations were organised by the SFI and DYFI all over the state. Most prominently the Gariahat crossing and Shyambazar Crossing came to a stand still on a busy Friday evening with comrades shouting slogans. Over the next 3 days, student and youth activists in all districts of the state, took to the streets and raised slogans in support of their comrades in jail. Rallies, protest demonstrations and postering across college and university campuses was taken up by the comrades. While everybody else indulged in the holi festivities, our comrades' hearts remained with those 8 put wrongfully behind bars.

The 8 comrades in custody, were produced in court on 14th March, 2017. A huge rally in their support began from Esplanade up till Bankshal Court. While we waited in anticipation for our comrades to return, slogans and songs pierced the sky. As far as one could see there was a sea of heads. Finally, the 8 comrades were granted bail and released. The Bankshal Court premises was  engulfed in a cloud of red and reverberating call of 'Lal selaam Comrade'. The entire series of events that has unfolded since 9th March, 2017 and culminating today is merely a clarion call for us comrades. If anything,our determination to see this struggle of the unemployed youth in the state to its end, has been further hardened. We shall continue to protest on the streets and our slogans shall continue to be about the have-nots.

14 March, 2017