Guns, bombs return to campus

Since poribartan, Bengal colleges have been witnessing frequent clashes that are actually turf wars without a tinge of idealism.

Violence on college campuses is not rare in West Bengal, but the intensity of such violence has risen to unprecedented levels in the last one-and-a-half years after the Trinamool Congress government came to power (See box).

Soon after it came to power, the Trinamool government formed a seven-member committee to review the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations for free and fair elections in college students' union, but till now the committee members have failed to submit their recommendations. The six-member committee, headed by the former Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh was appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2006 on the direction of the Supreme Court to study the diverse specifics of student union elections.

According to academicians and political experts, campus violence has been on the rise because there is a rush to grab political power in the unions after the Left Front lost the last Assembly elections. If any union wins in the students' union election, power gets concentrated in the hands of a few, which triggers violence. They gain control over the union and the fund for students' welfare too, which is bound to lead to clashes. Even during admission in colleges, some of the leaders of the students' union charge hefty amounts from students for admission in the college and as a result amass huge wealth.

According to Amol Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency University, bitter relationship between various political parties have an impact on students' unions' functioning, and this has got reflected in campus violence. Nowadays, students enter politics only to grab power and amass huge wealth. The motto of the students' union should be helping other students, he says.

Experts feel that since many MP/MLAs of the ruling party become presidents of governing bodies, they exercise huge power over the college administration. In their recommendations, the principal is bound to take admission of some students who do not have enough merit.

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