Kolkata: The war of words between the Congress and the Trinamool turned physical, with students unions of the two allies clashing at a college in North Bengal. Trinamool activists severely beat-up the principal of the Raigunj College, Dilip Dey Sarkar, on Thursday.
Hundreds of Trinamool activists stormed into the college, ransacked class rooms, barged into the principal's office, dragged him out and thrashed him. The Trinamool's grouse was that Mr Sarkar had refused to postpone students elections in the college which is dominated by the Congress's Chhatra Parishad.
12 persons have been arrested today but a local Trinamool leader who virtually led the mob, and was named in the FIR, is still roaming free.
West Bengal's Education Minister Bartya Bose promised strict action against the hooligans. " Yes he was in the college. But I did not see any footage that he is creating violence. Maybe you can say he instigated the violence, but that the administration will look out. It is not my look out, " said Mr Bose.
This is the second time in the last 30 days that the Trinamool has been involved in campus violence. On 17 December, two Trinamool councillors had led a mob to a prominent south Kolkata school and beaten up the principal. The opposition CPM says the Trinamool is to blame for such acts of violence on campus. "They polluting the atmosphere at academies, attacking principals, students. This is very bad for our state," said senior CPM leader, Biman Bose.
The Raigunj College has been closed for the next few days and police posted at the gate. Raiganj is considered the backyard of Congress MP Deepa Das Munshi, who has been extremely vocal in her criticism of Mamata Banerjee and her party, calling the Trinamool "CPM's B-team".
The incident has come as a huge embarrassment for Mamata Banerjee who had promised to get politics out of the campuses.
The Chhatra Parishad called a students' strike today in North Dinajpur in protest against the incident and also blocked NH-34 for an hour. In Kolkata, 26 Chhatra Parishad members were arrested for trying to demonstrate in front of the prohibitory orders-bound state secretariat. Another 14 Chhatra Parishad demonstrators were arrested for blocking roads on busy Mahatma Gandhi Road.
(with PTI inputs)