Sanskrit College & University’s linguistic student and activist Praghya Roy Chowdhury spoke to Debanjan Ballabh, the student from the same university who resisted Union Minister Babul Supriyo and his Hindutva juggernaut at Jadavpur University on 19 September 2019.
Q: What actually happened on the 19th of September at Jadavpur University?
A: On the 19th of September, ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) organised a seminar where they invited Union Minister Babul Supriyo. My name is Debanjan, a member of the USDF(United Students’ Democratic Front). Being a democratic person and a political activist of student’s movement, I was present there with other students to protest, and ask some questions to him about the burning issues of today’s India, like NRC (National Register of Citizens), for which more than 1.9m people have become homeless in Assam. Every day we are getting news of suicides, people are extremely scared about NRC. On the other hand, factories are closed, no jobs are there for the youths, at this moment the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is provoking for communal riots. People are getting stopped to ask questions about it.
“Rather than answering, he mocked the students, he started abusing the students verbally and also started attacking my comrades, female students too. “
So to ask the questions, I was present there being a socially-aware person. Babul Supriyo didn’t answer the questions, moreover, when we asked him about the NRC, for which people are becoming homeless, he didn’t answer the questions. Rather than answering, he mocked the students, he started abusing the students verbally and also started attacking my comrades, female students too. At that point in time, when he attacked me too, resistance and self-defence were the only options. It was Babul Supriyo’s responsibility to answer the questions which he didn’t do instead he started showing his physical power to the students. So we had to resist it.
Q: Don’t you think there wasn’t any other way of protesting instead of pulling Union Minister Babul Supriyo’s hair?
A: In the students’ movement, students fight for their demands. We were present with some questions and we were demonstrating our protest peacefully which is our democratic right. But he didn’t answer us rather, he attacked us. What else could we do? We had to resist just the way we all need to create resistance against this fascism.
Q: We got to see that you and your family were harassed socially and verbally. What do you want to say about it?
A: The day my picture came on newspaper and social media, on the very next day, the ABVP goons went to my place introducing them as journalists and instilled fear by giving life threats to me and my parents. They said(to the parents) the ABVP might lynch their son. They did politics with my mother’s illness. And basically they provoked my mother to apologise otherwise she wouldn’t have done that.
Q: Babul Supriyo also said that they’ll be providing financial help for your mother’s treatment. Also, a lot of fake profiles are created by the ABVP goons in your name. What is your say about it?
A: Because Babul Supriyo wanted to portray himself as a great leader by making fake promises to gain sympathy. On the other hand, these ministers are looting money worth millions from the people only. Also said he has pardoned me. So it is very clear that he used this as a tool for his politics.
Also, they created my fake profiles and wrote that I’m ‘apologetic for my action‘, which is an absolute lie. I did not apologise anywhere. I’m not apologetic. Because I think whatever I’ve done is absolutely correct. Whatever the students have done is absolutely correct.
Q: What do you think, are they getting scared of today’s revolutionary youth of India?
A: Absolutely. The state has always been scared of the students’ power. It happened historically. Today, the way fascism is growing in India, students are getting united with workers-farmers and are creating movements. When the voice of democracy is getting attacked, students are raising their voice more, without fear, to make the movement stronger. Just like this, Babul Supriyo and ABVP goons got scared of our questions and vandalised the university when very few students were left inside the university by throwing acid blubs and burning tyres.
Q: How did you come to students’ politics?
A: Firstly, when the BJP came into power in 2014, and communal riots started increasing, the economy started falling down, more than 20m youths are still jobless, these affected me like everyone else and I started to find an alternative. After coming to college, I saw the Trinamool‘s torture and extortion at every college. I had to find an ideology which would show me the way to fight against this. From there, I could find the right politics, I came to students’ politics and became a part of leftist politics.
Q: What inspires you to be a part of today’s revolutionary politics?
A: The rebellious character of the present-day students, the aspiration to resist, their quest to resist the ruling classes, and gradually, the collapse of the prevailing system, the unmasking of their democracy, these inspire me to be a part of the students’ politics.
Q: How are you looking into this movement? What’s your point of view?
A: Jadavpur (University) has been a democratic space, where different student organisations and individuals keep on protesting. When Babul Supriyo comes there, as a person, as a minister, we need to remember which party he represents. And what all that organisation has done in India? He represents the BJP, the RSS, the fascist Hindutva forces, which murdered people like Tabrez Ansari, Mohammed Akhlaq and Gauri Lankesh — who spoke against the undemocratic fascist acts of these parties. Not only this, they murdered them brutally, by burning them and then by doing live videos. A party, which has become the reason for suicide of thousands of farmers, closing factories of thousands of workers, also handing out natural resources and minerals to foreign countries, destroying huge forests for industrialisation — Babul Supriyo represents that party.
Babul Supriyo is accused of communalism. In Asansol, an Imam’s son had been cut into pieces under this Babul Supriyo’s leadership. After all, these students are democratically asking him questions, isn’t it enough?
I think this will stand as a milestone in students movement. As an inspiration for the young generation. It proves that being bullied and suppressed won’t put these students to the retreat, rather they will overcome all barriers with their strength.
When Babul Supriyo comes there, as a person, as a minister, we need to remember which party he represents.
Q: What is your message to the youth of today’s India?
A: The youth have always been a prominent part of every social movement. Their aspiration of resistance has always attacked the oppressor class. This has always been proved that the students’ movement is not something separate from other socio-political problems of a country. They all are interrelated. We need to understand that the way JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) students’ movement is very much related to JU movement, in the same way, a movement of Calcutta University is related to other universities and this too. Everyone should speak out against every problem they are facing.
At the time of Naxalbari Movement in the 1970s, students left their glorious career and went to the villages to integrate with the workers-peasants’ movement. Remembering that path, we need to speak out, question the system without fear and create an alternative platform. Only the students’ power can drive out these fascist fundamentalist Hindutva forces from their university campuses.