University authorities unleashed police and troops to smash up student protests in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, last month.
In 2003 engineering students at Jadavpur University organised the protests to try to force through changes to the examination system.
Recently the university suspended five of the students involved. Last month the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Students Union organised a hunger strike and began boycotting exams and lectures in response.
On 10 June a huge battalion of police and rapid action force troops — called in by university authorities — swooped down on the students, beating them up and whisking them away to a government hospital.
In the next two days students from Jadavpur were joined by those at other institutions, organising a 3,500-strong student demonstration.
Street corner meetings began taking place in almost every neighbourhood —with teachers, prominent cultural figures and intellectuals participating.
Writers such as Mahasweta Devi, playwrights Rudraprasad Sengupta and Bibhas Chakravarty, and filmmakers such as Ashok Vishwanathan were among those who marched. Jadavpur students are continuing to boycott classes and exams indefinitely.
Students all over West Bengal are demanding the resignation of the state’s education minister and the vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University, and for the withdrawal of the suspension of the engineering students.
The biggest of India’s Communist parties, the CPI(M), is in government in West Bengal.
The Students’ Federation of India, which it leads, officially opposed the boycott.
But many students from its strongholds protested in defiance of their leaders, joining a student strike on 14 June.
The All India Students Association (AISA), a separate federation led by the more radical Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), has supported the students.
On 16 June a demonstration was held at Parliament Street in New Delhi by AISA. Angry protesters burnt the effigy of West Bengal’s chief minister. Speakers called upon the students and all progressive people and organisations to condemn the actions of the government of West Bengal.
With the protest movement continuing, the final chapter on the history of this round of struggle is yet to be heard.