Kolkata: Calcutta University’s College Street Campus and Vidyasagar College turned into political war zones when BJP supporters accompanying Amit Shah’s roadshow broke into a clash with the TMC supporters showing “Amit Shah Go Back” during which the BJP supporters clad in saffron attired were seen ransacking the Vidyasagar College campus. The vandals even broke the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a renowned philosopher and an eminent figure of the Bengal Renaissance.
Initially, Amit Shah’s Convoy was greeted with anti-Shah chants and black flags near the Calcutta University Campus on College Street, following which a scuffle broke out, where both the BJP and TMC supporters began hurling bottles at each other. Understanding the sensitivity of the situation, the University Campus door was locked inside. Police also intervened and brought the situation under control.
As the roadshow proceeded northward, towards’ Swami Vivekanda’s residence, the convoy was once again greeted with “Amit Shah Go Back” slogan and black flags. But this time from the TMC supporters of Vidyasagar College.
Following which BJP supporters, some clad in saffron attire, began hurling stones and bottles inside the college campus, some rushed in and ransacked the college office. Some even set a section of the college on fire. They broke the statue of Vidyasagar and set ablaze three motorbikes near the college.
Watch the video as motorcycles set ablaze
Bengali Community Angered
Vidyasagar, a prominent leader for the Bengal Renaissance, is a much loved and revered figure for the Bengalis. He was not just played a pivotal role in forcing the British to enact the Widow Remarriage Act but was the architect of the present age Bengali typography. His book Bornoporichoy (Character Identification) till date is a must in all schools in Bengal to make children learn the language.
Given the position that Vidyasagar enjoys in the culturally rich Bengali society, the act of his bust being vandalised during the clash that broke out has angered the Bengali community.
Reacting to this act of vandalism, “This was a terrible thing to do, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was reformer, scholar and exemplar of Bengal Renaissance. From widow remarriage to various other social reforms that he introduced, inspired me as a child,” said Santasree Chaudhuri, a social entrepreneur, women’s rights activist and founder trustee if Green Tara Social Initiative.
She then added, “Yesterday’s incidence was an open act of arrogance of the BJP goons that were brought from outside Bengal. The vandalising of statues in the present time is a senseless act and a political gameplan of the RSS-BJP.”
Condemning the act was Ujjaini Halim, state coordinator of West Bengal Election Watch said, “This is an utterly shameful act and whoever has done it, we condemn the act. This shows how money and muscle power is used to influence election campaigns.”
She further added, “As WBEW, we condemn this violence and urge the state machinery as well as Election Commission of India to look into the matter. The result of this violence hurts us immensely as Bengali. We again reiterate, that money and the power-driven election are detrimental to electoral democracy.”
How will this affect the Phase VII election?
Political analyst Uddayan Bandopadhyay believes that this act of vandalism will cost dearly for the BJP, who is trying to make inroads into Bengal politics. Speaking to eNewsroom, he said, “The act terrible and will definitely influence voters during the Phase VII of Bengal election. I believe BJP will face a huge anti-BJP vote because of this act of vandalism.”
He perhaps has a point, for minutes after the news of Vidyasagar’s bust being vandalised being aired on various news channels, social media was abuzz with messages like – Kolkata Vote wisely on May 19.
Santasree, too feels that the Bengalis won’t be impressed with this act of saffron party. She said, “I can’t even fathom as to how a political party had the audacity to vandalize Vidyasagar’s statue, especially at a time when Bengal will be voting on May 19. It is sad to see how youths from the Hindi belt are being misused for political gain. Vandalism inside a college shows how short-sighted politicians have become today. And it’s sad to see some Bengali politicians trying to defend the act, they need to know that every Bengali heart has been pained by this act of vandalism.”