On 20th August, newly-appointed interim Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Jadavpur University (West Bengal) Buddhadeb Sau said in a statement that if a student dies allegedly following ragging and sexual harassment, it is the responsibility of the University as a whole. He added that a proper security arrangement is needed on the campus to ensure a healthy atmosphere for the students to avoid such incidents in the future.
In his statement, Sau described the death of the 17-year-old boy, Swapnodeep Kundu, as “unfortunate” and “heartrending”. The student died after falling from the balcony of a second floor in the main boys’ hostel. The incident took place on 9th August. His family alleged he was a victim of ragging at the University.
He said, “The responsibility is of the whole University and not of any one person… A proper security arrangement must be made to ensure a healthy atmosphere in the University.”
Sau added that the steps had been taken earlier over the allegations of ragging as per the rules and guidelines. He admitted there have been lapses on the University’s side and said, “We will have to ensure that such things do not happen again.”
Sau has been appointed as the interim VC by the Governor of West Bengal, C V Ananda Bose after pro-VC Amitabha Dutta was asked to step down from the post of interim VC. Governor is the ex-officio chancellor of the University. Sau is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at Jadavpur University. The orders were issued from the governor’s office directing Sau to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the VC with immediate effect on the night of 19th August.
The former full-time VC of the University, Suranjan Das, served at the post for nine years. His tenure ended on 31st May. The government appointed Amitabha Datta, the pro-VC of the University, as the officiating VC. However, he resigned on 4th August after being asked by the Governor.
Death of a student at the Jadavpur University
On 9th August, Swapnodeep Kundu, a Bachelor of Arts in Bengali student from Hanskhali in Nadia district, fell off the second floor of the hostel building at midnight. Swapnodeep was in room number 68 on the second floor of the A-2 block of Jadavpur University Main Hostel.
As students arrived at the scene after hearing a loud noise, they discovered Swapnodeep lying in a pool of blood. Swapnodeep was transferred to KPC Medical College for treatment, where he died on Thursday at 4:30 AM.
Ramprasad Kundu, the deceased’s father, filed a complaint saying that some of the hostel residents were responsible for his son’s murder.
West Bengal police arrested an ex-student of Jadavpur University in connection with his death, who was the target of ragging in the varsity hostel. The next day, the police made two more arrests. The Kolkata police arrested second-year undergraduate students identified as Deepshekhar Dutta (19) and Manotosh Ghosh (20), who were reportedly at the scene when first-year students were ragged. The two were arrested after several hours of questioning as police reportedly found discrepancies in their statements.
Students of Jadavpur University objected to CCTV
Speaking to News The Truth YouTube channel, Srijata Bagcchi, one of the students opposing the installation of CCTV cameras in the University, made a bizarre statement. When asked about the graffiti being installed against CCTV, she said that there are hundreds of videos of crimes happening in Manipur and other parts of the country, which did not stop the crimes from happening.
When the reporter asked about the beer bottles etc in the campus and what students have done to stop it, she said they tried but failed. She said, “It is very important to observe that all the people who are talking big about why there are this many beer bottles on campus. I’m pretty sure all these people are not people who’ve never touched alcohol in their entire life. They do it in their own homes, and the institution we treat like a second home, that is why we have a complete right if we want to smoke and drink on campus.”
The flabbergasted reporter asked again if she said it was students’ right to drink and smoke on campus and if it could be applied to students in the school. She said no, as the school students are not of legal age and students in University are 18 to 20 years, so they can smoke and drink.