SFI students attacked in alleged ABVP attack in Bengal’s Vishwa Bharati, ABVP denies

Students’ Federation of India (SFI) members from Vishwa Bharati in Shantiniketan were attacked allegedly by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Wednesday night. Many drew a parallel with the planned attack on the students of Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU) that took place earlier this month.

On Wednesday evening, two ABVP members – named Achintya Bagdi and Shabir Ali – allegedly beat up SFI leader Swapnanil Mukhopadhyay and another student Debabrata Nath. Bagdi and Ali – said to have been part of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad earlier and not current students of the university – used wooden planks to hit Mukhopadhyay. They allegedly entered the senior boys’ hostel and threatened some students.

On January 8, Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta was gheraoed for several hours inside the university campus when he was there to speak on the CAA. Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty was also among those gheraoed for hours then.

Some students alleged that Achintya Bagdi had been “spotted” with the university vice chancellor for the past few days. On Wednesday evening, while threatening students, he and some others with him apparently asked who were behind the gherao of Dasgupta. Swapnanil Mukhopadhyay and another student Debabrata Nath were then chased after and beaten up.

The Vishwa Bharati campus has seen protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register coming from students for the past few weeks. SFI has been leading these protests.

SFI members said that Wednesday night’s attack on their students was a retaliation of the events of January 8. They alleged that even when Swapnanil was taken to the hospital, the attackers reached there and hit him there, and the security personnel had to bring the situation under control. SFI supporters later staged a protest against the horrific incident outside the university’s central office.

Srijan Bhattacharya, a senior leader of the SFI said that it is clear that the ABVP is creating trouble in all the leading educational institutions whether it is JNU or Jadavpur University. The ABVP though denied their involvement in the attack. Saptarshi Sarkar from the ABVP said that the SFI was behind the troubled situation in educational institutions. “Only recently, they gheraoed a senior national-level leader in the campus. Now, they are spreading lies about us,” said Sarkar.

A Trinamool Congress leader from Birbhum said that the two attackers were not part of their organisation as was being claimed from certain quarters. He alleged that the university VC had met Bagdi and Ali on Wednesday and this should be probed.

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