Innocence Turning Ugly: Politics around a Student Death in West Bengal

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        Innocence Turning Ugly: Note on Politics around a Student Death in West Bengal                                  Pratip Chattopadhyay*


In the first week of April 2013, West Bengal witnessed a tragic death of a college student, Sudipta Gupta, while participating in a ‘law-breaking’ rally led by the CPI (M) student wing – SFI (Student Federation of India) against the decision of the state government to withheld elections to student unions in colleges and universities. Sudipta’s death was allegedly caused by the brutal beating of the police followed by the casualness of the medical staffs. The very next day entire Bengal, and thanks to community forum ‘face-book’ and some media channels, entire nation saw the innocent and bright face of the student and plunged into sorrow. Such a normal reaction over an innocent death was soon followed up by some ugly demonstration of protest and counter-protest allegedly by the student wings of both CPI (M) and Trinamul Congress (TMC). This article after taking note on these events concludes that in tune with the practical (non-ideological)  political milieu of our country, student politics too is getting deviated from its ideological position and becoming similar irrespective of the Leftist and rightist genre.

Keywords: Politics, Student, Ideology, Elections, West Bengal

*Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Kalyani, West Bengal and can be reached at


              “I don’t want it to be fought at all! An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle, except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it. You know very well that it will not be fought on principle” (Shaw: 2007).

The violent element in election arena is a matter of great concern of contemporary political analysts as well as psephologists and the situation become even more shocking once it enters in the educational institutions engulfing student politics. The event of untimely student deaths, a situation in vogue in West Bengal for the past few years, perturbs any sensible soul that prays for non-repetition of such incidents. As prayer cannot be the ‘only’ thing to be done in any circumstance, the series of student violence that characterizes contemporary student politics culminating into fatal injuries and even death, calls for in-depth analysis of the reasons for and solution to such incidents. The section I of the present paper based on some personal experience of student politics in West Bengal over the past decade tries to understand the shifts and changes in the outlook of students towards the political system and that of political parties to their  student wings. The section II tries to understand in greater detail the particular death of Sudipta Gupta and arguments based on ‘custodial death’ targeting the state government. Section III brings in theoretical understanding of student politics and tries to link it with recent events in West Bengal particularly as a critique of the politics of the Left leaning student groups. Finally a concluding section is presented to show that the overall trend of national politics does influence the politics at the formative ages of a person – at the level of student politics.


It was in the early years of this millennium that I joined as a student in one of the reputed government colleges in central Kolkata and was introduced to a dialogue between ‘political politics’ and apolitical politics’ taking place between several groups of students in classrooms, in corridors, in canteens and even in the streets leading to the college. Naïve as I was to distinguish between the...

References: 1.      Banerjee, Ritabrata(2013): War Against Democracy: Designs to Ban Politics in Bengal Campuses, (accessed on 26.06.2013).
2.      Chakraborty, Satyabrata(2013): Anarchy in West Bengal,                                               Economic and Political Weekly,             Vol. XLVIII No. 17, April 27, 2013
4.      Oomen, T.K(2010): Student Power Mobilization and Protest in Social Movements: Concerns of Equity and Security, Vol. II , T.K. Oomen (ed.), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010.
5.      Patnaik, Prabhat(2013): Heckling As Violence, People’s Democracy, Vol. XXXVII , No. 17, April 28, 2013
7.      Shaw, George Bernard(2007): Back to Methuselah, Iowa, 1st World Library.
8.      Samaddar, Ranabir(2013): Presidency: Nicher Tolar Protyaghat? ABP, Editorial,                  17th April.
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10.     Letters to the Editor, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. .XLVIII No. 16, April 20, 2013
Respected RK Sir
Kalyani, Nadia, 741235
West Bengal, India
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