Abul Kafi, an assistant professor at the department of Bengali, Jadavpur University, was assaulted by a former student on Friday, July 26, outside the university’s gate number four. The attacker, Rajesh Santra, is a resident of Arambagh in Hooghly district.
Eyewitnesses have confirmed that Kafi was sipping tea at a nearby stall when the accused grabbed him by the hair and slapped him, causing him to fall on the ground and break his spectacles. He sustained minor injuries and was later taken to KPC Medical College for first aid.
The university officials rounded up the accused and he was first taken to the university’s main administrative building. Santra later told the university authorities that Kafi had allegedly “discriminated” against him when he was a student of the department in 2015. He was eventually handed over to the Police and charged with Section 341, 353 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, said a police officer at Jadavpur police station.
Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) general secretary Partha Pratim Roy said on Saturday, “We want strict action against Santra who had been stalking Prof Kafi for a long time and finally carried on such an audacious attack.”
The vice chancellor Suranjan Das said “The university informed the police after the attack on the teacher and would always take a stern view about such incidents.”
This is not the first time Santra has tried to harm the professor.
According to a statement released by Kafi on Facebook, Santra had at first tried to make contact through social media. He sent the professor a message with objectionable content to which Kafi did not respond. Santra then allegedly showed up at Kafi’s house on July 20, creating a ruckus and only left when the neighbours got involved.
Before attacking Kafi outside the tea stall, Santra allegedly misbehaved with other professors in the department, used cuss words against the head of the department and left in a flurry.
After the incident, the students and bystanders who acted as first responders were repeatedly requested by Kafi to not retort with violence. Santra’s parents reportedly reached out to Kafi later, admitting that they have no clue why he might have acted the way he did and were just as shocked.
“I don’t wish for the police to mete out any harsh treatment to him while in custody. I only want to sit with him and understand what prompted him to assault me and abuse my colleagues,” Kafi said.
The exact reason behind Santra’s grudge against his former professor, especially one who is otherwise well-liked both within his peer group and by his students, remains unclear. Some accounts attribute it to his deteriorating mental health while others have claimed that he was an RSS cadre whose social media page is full of hate messages for the professor as well as for the minority community.
This is the second incident within the span of two days where a professor was attacked by former students on July 24.
Two former students of Nabagram Hiralal Paul College at Konnagar in Bengal’s Hooghly district were arrested for thrashing Professor Subrata Chatterjee when he tried to intervene between them and some other female students.
Apparently, a group of ruling party supporters were forcing the postgraduate students to chant “Mamata Banerjee Zindabad“. The row resulted in the chief minister herself getting involved and assuring Chatterjee his safety. JUTA and West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association condemned the attack.
Jitsoma Banerjee is a postgraduate student of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University
Featured image credit: Special arrangement