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'The end is in sight, the TMC is fast losing its credibility'

By Indrani Roy/
September 19, 2014 19:48 IST
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Jadavpur University students protest

'There is no discipline here -- only autocracy. The state is not governed by any democratic ideology. Democracy has ceased to exist here.'

Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, inset below, was just another academic till April 2012.

Then he shared with his friends through e-mail a cartoon that lampooned West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress General Secretary Mukul Roy.

The cartoon's idea, borrowed from the Satyajit Ray film Sonar Kella, showed Banerjee and Roy discussing how to get rid of then 'rebellious' railway minister Dinesh Trivedi.

The police arrested Professor Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta because the professor had used Sengupta's e-mail id to circulate the cartoon. Both were later released on bail.

Angry and hurt at the incident, Professor Mahapatra started a movement against the wrongdoings of the West Bengal government.

He is now one of the main forces behind the platform Akranto Amra (We, under attack).

Professor Mahapatra was vehement in his protest against the police attack on the students at Jadavpur University on Wednesday, September 17.

In an exclusive interaction with Indrani Roy/, Professor Mahapatra discussed the Jadhavpur University incident, the malfunctioning of the West Bengal government among other issues.

What is wrong with the government in West Bengal?

There is no discipline here -- only autocracy. The state is not governed by any democratic ideology. Democracy has ceased to exist here. Chaos is a natural outcome.

Some of us have taken an oath not to give up. We will continue to fight for justice.

As a professor of Jadavpur University, why do you think Vice-Chancellor Abhijit Chakraborty set the police and Rapid Action Force after the students?

The entire incident is pre-planned. The VC is very close to the TMC.

I heard from the students that he had kept the police on alert from 9 pm on Tuesday and waited till the wee hours to set them after the students. JU, like Presidency University, is known for its anti-TMC stance. It is natural that the police department headed by the chief minister herself will be intentionally unkind to JU students.

The VC's associates, I am told, had switched off the lights as the police continued to beat and molest the students. Chakraborty had not imagined that the students of JU are too spirited to take this police excess lying down. He hadn't expected this sea of protests.

Ambikesh MahapatraBut the VC claimed that the students had attacked the police and not the other way round and that he could have been killed...

(Laughs) Video clippings circulated by the students and the media have already exposed his lies. No one believes him.

Political analysts feel this JU incident will spark off a series of protests.

Of course! It is now or never! This government has failed to deliver in every respect.

It is time the people threw it out of power.

But the recent election results tell a different story.

Wait for a few months. The end is in sight. People have started seeing the negative sides of the present government. The TMC is fast losing its credibility.

Do you mean the assembly election results of 2016 will be shocking for the TMC?

I am no psephologist, but as a citizen of this country I feel the results will be different in 2016. Many people have lost their faith in the government.

As for your case, the State Human Rights Commission had ordered the Mamata government to pay you a compensation of Rs 50,000.

The state government not only refused to pay, but also sent me a letter to that effect. I filed a case in the Calcutta high court and am awaiting a verdict.

I don't mind not getting the compensation, but I do mind if the erring police officers are not brought to book. I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister's Office last year on the issue. I had requested the PMO to intervene to uphold the dignity of the SHRC.

Tell us about Akranto Amra.

This is a platform that fights against wrongs committed by various state machineries, including the police. It consists of the people who have been harassed by the state government and its tools.

Akranto Amra raises its voice against social ills like rape and puts up a fight against injustice of any form. Through this group, we want to indoctrinate the people of Bengal to put up a resistance against misrule and violence, inequality and aggression.

Akranto Amra will walk in tandem with the JU students till their demands are met. And going by the present trends, I am sure there will be many more Jadavpurs in the future. The onus now rests on us to give it back to those who abuse us.

If people could get rid of the 35-year-old Left regime, they can put an end to this mockery of governance.

Image: Jadavpur University students protest on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, against police action against the students in the campus. Photograph: Dipak Chakraborty

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Indrani Roy/ in Kolkata
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