Though the Trinamool Congress leadership has denied any role of the party or its cadres in Wednesday's hooliganism that saw armed men carrying Trianmool Congress flags vandalise Presidency University's 100-year-old Baker Laboratory, beat up its teachers and reportedly molest girl students and threaten them with rape, footage of a Bengali satellite news channel named 24 Ghanta (meaning 24 hours) shows Partha Bose, Trinamool strongman and councillor of Ward 40 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), leading the mob at the main gate of India's oldest educational institute.
Known as Lalu in Trianmool circles, Bose is married to Sonali Guha, Trianmool Congress MLA and Deputy Speaker in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. The footage negates the Trinamool leadership's contention that their party cadres had nothing to do with the violence. The incident has not just shocked the city of Kolkata but the entire nation. A still from the footage which accompanies this story clearly shows a man carrying a Trinamool Congress flag and trying to climb over the closed gate as Bose keeps a careful watch.
Students and eyewitnesses said that gas cutters and javelins were used to prise open the locks and intimidate students, teachers and the administrative staff alike. Some policemen who were present at the spot did nothing to prevent the hooliganism, the Presidency University registrar said. The student's canteen, the hub of Presidency, was also smashed by the armed men.
Following the incident, leaders like Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien, state industries minister Partha Chatterjee and state education minister Bratya Basu had denied any Trinamool involvement in the violence. Derek O'Brien in fact had pointed fingers at the CPI(M) and its students' wing for inciting the violence. However, this footage puts an end to all speculations.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose (credited with the discovery of life in plants and the radio), Satyen Bose (Of Boson fame), pioneering nuclear scientist Meghnad Saha (of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics fame) and PC Mohalanobis (founder of Indian Statistical Institute) are a few prominent names who have worked at the Baker Lab. Some of their equipment is preserved there. It is still not known if they have been damaged.
Among other notable Indians who have studied at Presidency College (now University), Bengal's jewel in the crown, are Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (who penned Bande Mataram), Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, Oscar-winner Satyajit Ray and Rajendra Prasad, India's first President. Scores of the college's students have gone on to occupy the highest seats of academics in the world's top institutes, universities.