Talking to Presidency College alumni after it was stormed by a violent crowd of men carrying TMC flags and weapons, it’s kind of crazy how familiar the students are with the idea of violence. “See, cracked heads, black eyes, that sort of thing is a regular feature. Especially on days of college elections, that’s expected,” one alumni told me. Another student calmly told me about the time he’d been beaten up to the point of falling unconscious. “It was a day of college elections,” he said by way of explanation. Everyone I spoke to impressed upon me that a little bit of violence now and then is regular affair. (Listening to them made me remember my father, a Presidency alumnus, shaking his head when I told him Presidency wasn’t one of the colleges I’d shortlisted. “You’re picking a bookish education over a real education,” he’d rued. Ok then.) The point was that the day after elections, everyone is friends again. April 10th, however, wasn’t an election day and it doesn’t seem likely that any Presidency student is going to friends with the TMC people who ransacked the college, destroyed property, threatened staff and students and injured many.
Thanks to all those who spoke to me and to those who put up public posts about what happened that day on social media. It can be dangerous to speak out in Bengal today but it’s good to know the old Bangal saying “daabaay rakhtey parbana” (Trans: can’t keep ’em down) still holds true for at least some Bengalis.