Thousands walk in rainy Kolkata with Jadavpur varsity students

Kolkata, Sep 20 (IANS): "Hok Kolorob" (let there be shouts) and shout did thousands of students from various institutions as they braved the downpour to walk in unison with Jadavpur University students to demand the resignation of its vice chancellor following the alleged police assault on them.

Joining the swelling crowd of protestors, who had the word 'Chee' (Disgusting) written on headbands and badges, were hundreds of ex-students of the varsity that is now embroiled in a controversy in the aftermath of the police crackdown Sep 17.

Apart from Jadavpur varsity students, there were their compatriots from Presidency University, Calcutta University, Ashutosh College and a host of private colleges.

The anger and dissent was palpable among the students, who swathed in black (to signify a 'Black Day'), waded, sloshed and kicked through knee-deep water and mud with strong sloganeering that reverberated through central Kolkata.

Starting from Nandan at around 3 p.m., the protestors gathered in groups and rallied with around a dozen small trucks carrying people with megaphones.

Shouts of "Inquilab Zindabad" and "Halla Bol" mixed with the more pronounced "Hok Kolorob" and the accompanying drum beats and cymbals added to the din.

"We request all to stand by us and protest the police atrocities. We will not stop till the VC resigns... 'Hok Kolorob'," said Chironjeet, one of the student leaders spearheading the agitation.

The protest tag 'Hok Kolorob that is trending on social networking sites, is inspired by a popular song of the same name by Bangladeshi singer Shayan Chowdhury.

As the slogans rose in pitch, so did the rain and melodies strummed on guitars - in jarring contrast to the shouts.

With the rain showing no sign of relenting, black umbrellas went up as did coloured ones.

And one could spot face paints and body paints with words of protest like "Hell for VC" and "Shame" jumping out in smudged red paint.

For alumni Chitralekha Ghosh, the point of disgust was the deteriorating student-teacher relationship.

"The VC is incompetent and must resign," Ghosh told IANS.

Expressing solidarity with the students were members of Kamduni Protibadi Moncha, the forum protesting the Kamduni gangrape.

"This is a student related issue and so we are here," said Pradip Ghosh, principal of the rape victims school.

Shrouded in raincoats and caps as well as under umbrellas to shelter themselves from the pelting rain, the protestors moved on ahead with gusto even as they were stopped by police barricade near Jawahar Lal Nehru Road.

Apprehending police action, the students squatted down on the ground and rented the air with slogans.

"Yes we are scared but we saw what our friends went through when police attacked them. So we are here to support them and face whatever comes," said Debosmita Bose, a Jadavpur University student.

There were also shouts of 'Lal Salaam' and the rampant use of words "comrades" as a huge chunk of the agitating students are affiliated to Left-backed student unions.

However, for the onlookers, it was a disruption of their weekend.

"This is an arterial road and with traffic obstructed, we are unable to proceed. We are facing the taxi strike and now this too," said a commuter.

Many students were hospitalised after police allegedly beat them Sep 17 as they were protesting outside Chakrabarty's office, seeking a fresh inquiry into the sexual harassment of a student in the campus last month.

The police crackdown has been widely condemned, with students and political parties demanding Chakrabarty's removal.

Both Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha and Education Minister Partha Chatterjee have refuted claims that the students were baton charged or assaulted.



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