People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 21, 2013







Agitated People Protest All Over


Shatarup Ghosh


SINCE April 2, 2013, waves of protest have rocked almost all corners of the country, with students from every part of India protesting against the death of a SFI leader, Sudipta Gupta, in police custody in Kolkata. One may note that Sudipta had joined a rally in Kolkata, called for by the four Left leaning student organisations, namely the SFI, AISF, AISB and PSU, to demand democratic student union elections all over the state of West Bengal. On the day, a procession started from the College Street, but it was confronted by the police as soon as it reached Dharmatala, and several protesters were arrested. From there they were taken to the Presidency Jail. Eyewitnesses have claimed that once the bus carrying Sudipta and other protesters neared the jail premises, it started to slow down. Suddenly some of the policemen present over there started a lathicharge on the students and pulled them down from the bus. On being hit by a lathi, Sudipta fell from the bus and his head hit an adjacent lamp-post. But the blood thirsty policemen did not relent. Blows rained on the collapsing figure who now lay in a pool of blood in front of the stunned students. Several other students were also injured. In spite of repeated persuasions from the students, the policemen took another half an hour to take the injured Sudipta to the nearby SSKM Hospital where he died. Later, the post mortem report established that multiple injuries had led to his death.


On the same evening, however, the chief minister of West Bengal was busy celebrating her leisure in the IPL opening ceremony in a stadium in Kolkata, just a few kilometres away from the SSKM Hospital, where the 23 year old, injured student was breathing his last. Though she arrived at the hospital next morning, she declared --- even before the post mortem started --- that Sudipto’s death was nothing but an accident, thereby negating the legitimate demand of an independent judicial probe. Later on, while in Bangalore, she went even further to make the outrageous comment that Sudipta’s death in police custody was a “small and petty incident.”


On April 3, Sudipto’s body was brought to the SFI office in Kolkata where in front of a huge gathering CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Biman Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, Suryakanta Mishra and Nirupam Sen garlanded the body. State leaders of the CPI(M) and other Left parties also garlanded the body. The city of Kolkata witnessed a massive procession of mourners, with people from all spheres of life accompanying the body of the student martyr to the crematorium.


The gruesome death of Sudipta Gupta and the fact that it took place in police custody enraged the conscience of all well meaning people across the country. It was a gross violation of democratic and human rights of the citizens. People came out on the streets across the country protesting against this incident and demanding an independent judicial probe into this custodial death.


On April 4, the West Bengal state committees of the four said Leftist student organisations called for a student strike across the state, which was spontaneous and total. The West Bengal unit of the DYFI also staged roadblocks between 11 and 11.15 a m. On the same day, the Left Front of West Bengal observed a 12-hour general strike at Garia, Dhakuria and Tollygunge in the southern suburbs of Kolkata, which happened to be the locality where Sudipta lived.


Waves of protest rolled over to other parts of the country as well.  The entire students and youth fraternity, led by the Leftist organisations, raised its voice of anger against this cold-blooded assassination. In Bengaluru, students agitated and protested against this act by the Bengal administration. They agitated in front of the TMC supremo and Bengal chief minister Ms Mamata Banerjee at Bengaluru airport, Mysore Bank Circle area and other places she visited on April 4. The agitation followed her throughout the city.


SFI supporters and other students gave vent to their anger in New Delhi too, the centre of political power in the country. They showed their agony and protest in front of Banga Bhawan, the West Bengal government’s guest house in New Delhi. Many Leftist leaders and those from the various mass organisations came forward to raise their voice along with the students. The Banga Bhawan had to be cordoned off by Delhi Police. Yet the police failed to prevent this surging wave of protest. Later, students held another agitation in front of Banga Bhawan, with Sitaram Yechury, former all-India president of the SFI, addressing the gathering.


On April 9, massive protest took place in front of the Yojana Bhawan, organised by SFI activists and those of other mass organisations.


In Uttar Pradesh, students and youths raised their voice in Lucknow, Benaras, Sultanpur and many other districts. They burnt the effigy of Ms Mamata Banerjee in many places, including the campus of the Benaras Hindu University.


Protests took place in Madhya Pradesh too. Student activists demonstrated near the Chetak Bridge in Bhopal, condemning the custodial killing of Sudipta Gupta and demanding an independent judicial probe into the incident.


A number of protest rallies, processions, agitations and street corner meetings were held by the students and youth in Assam, Tripura and Kerala. The vigorous protest movement surged forward in other parts of the country as well.