A 17+ first year student majoring in Bengali Literature was found dead in the Jadavpur University Main Hostel Campus, Kolkata, on 9 August last. He had fallen from the corridor of the second floor after he faced inhuman ragging by some senior students including some illegal occupiers stated to be ex-students. It is alleged that he was forced to undress and hence ran across hostel building to escape torture of the raggers before death. According to media report, the teen was ragged and ‘‘sexually molested’’. So far 13 people including present and former students of the varsity, who are alleged to have played active roles in the entire episode leading to his death, have been arrested. The family of the student, who fell to this inhuman incident had earlier alleged that he was a victim of ragging and sexual molestation. This tragedy opened a Pandora’s box, as horrifying accounts of ragging and bullying taking place right under the authorities’ noses emerged. Students, teachers, and staff members in the hostels came forward to confirm widespread ragging allegations. Apart from forcing junior students to perform chores, senior students were also reportedly physically abusing them, mentally torturing them, and even subjecting them to punitive acts such as walking on railings on higher floor verandas. Most bizarrely, ragging is justified by a section including those who talk of following ultra-left line on the pretext that it helps to create an atmosphere of friendship amongst the boarders. As usual, the ruling TMC, the BJP, the CPI(M) and the Congress were engaged in a mudslinging contest, assigning blame to each other for the situation at the university.
Jadavpur University, a high ranked institution in the country, has long been a den of ragging. Many former students—on social media and in local news channels—have pointed out how they were compelled to leave the hostel when faced with ragging and lived in nearby ‘messes’. Adding to the distress in this sordid saga of continued masochistic power-play at work inside one of the premier learning institutes of West Bengal is the fact that victims at the receiving end of the torture are mostly from economically underprivileged backgrounds. Most unfortunate is that the authorities have been criminally negligent in abating such crimes. They even feared not to install CCTVs and appoint more guards in the campus and hostels because of objection of a group of students accused of indulging in liquor and drug addiction besides other foul acts.
Even the residents of the buildings adjacent to the main hostel premises have stated that they could not keep the windows open after sunset because of high-pitched DJ sounds, continuous hurling of indecent languages, lewd comments at and ugly postures towards the girls by the hostel inmates. What is most deplorable is that the Jadavpur University students are stated to be controlled by either the SFI-led unions or the unions held by the self-styled ultra-leftists. With this fact being once more nakedly exposed, common people wonder if this were the culture of the leftists.
Noticing this public perception about leftism, AIDSO, in an appeal to the left-minded students said that in the recent tragic incident of Jadavpur University, the cultural base of the leftist movement in general has been strongly questioned by the public. We think, in this situation, everyone who wants to move forward with the true left ideals, needs introspection. Only through that, they would be able to identify areas that are fostering people to feel ill them. Leftism, which means opposition to the existing system, is a noble ideal. If existing system is rotten, then those who consider themselves as torch-bearers of leftism have to reflect a character, a culture-ethics-morality which are diametrically opposite to the prevailing rot. The very kernel of any noble ideology is its higher cultural-ethical-moral base. Can we, therefore, while professing leftism against right reaction, behave in any way that runs counter to this fundamental concept?
Hence, AIDSO has always been endeavoring to base every legitimate movement on the edifice of a higher ethical-cultural foundation. Emphasis is placed on motivating the student community participating in the righteous students’ movements to lead a life, both personal and social, which is conducive to that righteousness and hence distinctly different from the worm-eaten debased culture. Unless the essence of this higher ethical-moral-cultural standard is imbibed and reflected in the character, behaviour and talks, the Marxist-leftist movements, notwithstanding many tall talks, even during espousal of a right point, will go astray and not find due acceptance by the students and common people. Disregarding the task of adopting higher ethics and morals is tantamount to be a part of the power-centric culture, power-centric politics which generate various perversive, cruel, sadistic and inhuman mindset and behove one to indulge in brutal acts like ragging.
Thus, it is, under the camouflage of leftist vocabularies, indirectly help prepare ground for fascism, which destroys the very process of man-making, to firm up its strangling hold on the society the students included. Therefore, it is the duty of all leftists today to protect the dignity of the struggling left from the tendency of ‘centralization of power-oriented activities’ and presume to be licensed to do anything and everything including anarchical activities and, we are sorry to say, debauchery raising slogan of so-called ‘individual freedom’. These tendencies and practices within the Left movement are weakening and seriously damaging the prestige of leftism itself. Marxism-Leninism is not just a political theory but a comprehensive life philosophy. a guide to a better way of life. Let all of us appreciate the crying necessity of projecting genuine leftism as the sole alternative to reactionary, corrupt, autocratic right-wing doctrine, based on higher ethical-moral-culture that we have discussed above. Let us raise the banner of the militant leftist student movement premised on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and great Marxism and respond to the call of the hour.