Sunday, March 27, 2011

Union sit-ups and stair ordeal for polio boy

Tamluk, Feb. 21: A polio-afflicted student of a government college in Haldia was allegedly forced to do 100 sit-ups holding his ears, climb up and down the stairs several times and was beaten up by Trinamul Chhatra Parishad members for refusing to walk in processions with them.

Subir Das, 21, a first-year student of mechanical trade at the Industrial Training Institute in East Midnapore, was then forced to march with a Trinamul Congress flag around the campus on Friday. He was also made to give an undertaking to seniors saying he would not work for any other party except Trinamul.

Subir, whose father is a farmer, lodged a complaint with Durgachak police station on Saturday alleging he had been subjected to “mental and physical torture” by Siddartha Bayen, a second-year student of maintenance mechanics and general secretary of the Trinamul-led students’ union at the institute.

Subir, whose left leg has withered because of polio, said that on Friday, Siddhartha and around 20 other seniors stopped him from leaving the college after classes.

“They had earlier asked me to join the Trinamul union and walk in processions with them. On Friday, they forced me to do nearly 100 sit-ups holding my ears,” Subir, a resident of Haldia’s Bishnuramchak village, said.

“My head started reeling and I collapsed. But they did not relent. They pulled me up and forced me to go up and down the stairs of the three-storey building several times,” the student said.

Subir alleged the seniors then dragged him to the union room and ordered him to give an undertaking saying he “would be loyal only to Trinamul”.

“When I refused, they slapped and punched me. I could not bear the torture any longer and gave in to their wish. After that, they forced me to walk around the campus with a Trinamul flag,” Subir said.

This morning, the union members did not allow him to attend classes because he had lodged the police complaint. Subir could eventually attend classes but only after the principal intervened.

However, Subir alleged principal Uttam Dutta refused to accept his written complaint and asked him to “strike off Siddhartha’s name”.

“He also advised me to withdraw the police complaint against Siddhartha,” Subir said.

Dutta said he had set up a “four-member committee to look into” Subir’s complaint. “We will take appropriate action after receiving the committee’s report.”

Chakradhar Maikap, the minister of state for technical education, said that according to Supreme Court guidelines, the atrocities on Subir “amounted to ragging”. Maikap said he would ask the director of technical education to “investigate the case and take appropriate action”.

In an interim order in 2007, the apex court had made it mandatory for academic institutions to lodge FIRs if students complained of ragging.

Salil Gangopadhyay, the subdivisional police officer, said a preliminary investigation had revealed that Subir had been “physically and mentally tortured”. He said he had asked the local police station to “take action”.

The Trinamul union leader, Siddhartha, denied the allegations against him. “The SFI has instigated Subir to bring false charges against us,” he claimed.

The SFI controlled the students’ union at the institute till Trinamul Chhatra Parishad won the elections last year.

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