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Near shutdown in West Bengal colleges after SFI Strike

Staff reporter

KOLKATA: There was a near complete shutdown in academic activities in all colleges in the State on Monday in response to a strike called by the Student Federation of India (SFI) in protest against the incidents of campus violence that broke out last week, in which one of its members was killed and another seriously injured.

“We are pleased that the students' strike called by us has received tremendous response and passed off peacefully,” said Dhruvajyoti Chakraborty, joint secretary of SFI in West Bengal.

Swapan Koley, a student of Prabhu Jagatbandhu College at Andul in Howrah district, was killed when he went to file his nomination papers for the college election on December 16. On the same day there was a clash between SFI and the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) at Ashutosh College in the city in which Soumik Hazra took a serious blow to his eye.

Want punishment

“We want that those responsible for the death of Swapan Koley and the assault on Soumik Hazra be identified and given severe punishment,” said Abhishek Mitra, president of SFI in Kolkata.

It was heartening to see that the strike was observed even in colleges such as Maulana Azad College, City College and Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri Law College, where SFI is not in control of the Student Union, he added.

Classes were not held even though college authorities and teachers were present. Students organised demonstrations outside the gates of the colleges, burning effigies of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at some places. The impact of the strike also spread to some schools that remained closed during the day.

Mr. Chakraborty said that the SFI will also organise a rally in January, followed by the submission of a deputation to West Bengal Governor M. K. Narayanan. “We demand that the Centre intervene in the matter. Here is an example of Central government ministers getting involved in student elections,” he said referring to remarks made by Railway Minister Ms. Banerjee, throwing “an open challenge” to SFI to lay a siege upon her house after rumours emerged that the body was planning to do so.

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