Jadavpur professor compares girls’ virginity to ‘sealed bottle’, outraged students plan agitation

 Jadavpur University professor Kanak Sarkar has stirred up outrage in the campus and outside after his comments on girls’ virginity on social media. Students plan an agitation against him.
Jadavpur University professor Kanak Sarkar has stirred up outrage in the campus and outside after his comments on girls’ virginity on social media. Students plan an agitation against him.

A professor at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University (JU), one of the premier institutions in the country, has triggered an uproar by comparing a “virgin girl” to “sealed bottle or sealed packet” in a Facebook post.

Kanak Sarkar, a teacher of international relations at JU for more than a decade, removed his post, which also said, Many boys remain fool. They are not aware of virgin girl as wife”, on Monday morning after it went viral but wrote in another post a few hours later that he was free to express his opinion.

By then, students and a section of teachers, most of them women, burst out in anger. They alleged that Sarkar had been writing objectionable posts and making similar remarks on campus for a long time. The students will meet on Tuesday and start an agitation.

JU has always been a hotbed of student politics and witnessed long agitation on various issues.

“Supreme Court has repealed Section 66A of Information Technology Act and given freedom of expression in social media,” Sarkar wrote in the second post, inviting another barrage of scathing criticism from students, teachers and a section of intellectuals across Bengal.

“A woman can lose virginity for various reasons, during sporting activities for example. This professor’s educational background is questionable. What will he teach to students?” said Saswati Ghosh, head of economics department at City College.

By the afternoon, the second post, too, was removed but even as Sarkar avoided the media and stayed away from campus, students planned an agitation and some JU teachers said they would request the administration to take action. Sarkar, however, continued to post on Facebook and other platforms in a bid to defend himself.

Sarkar wrote in his first post, “Are you willing to buy broken seal while purchasing a Bottle of Cold drinks or a packet of biscuit?”

In the second post he said, “I have not written anything against any person, individual or anybody without any evidence of proof of any reference. I am doing social research and writing for the good and wellbeing of Society.”

“It’s everybody’s right to express his/her thoughts. I have given many posts for and in favour of women. Can verify them in my Timeline,” he added and even drew references to writer Taslima Nasreen and poet Srijato who drew criticism for their writings in the past.

Somashree Choudhury, a final-year student of international relations and president of the JU Arts Faculty Students’ Union said, “Professor Sarkar had always been known for posting objectionable topics on social media. He even makes objectionable remarks during conversation.”

“People chose to ignore him all these years but now he has crossed the limit. We must do something. Teachers are also agitated,” she added.

Girl students at JU took strong exception to Sarkar’s posts. “Women are not edible, immovable objects which are meant to be consumed like a packet of biscuits. Neither are their intellect determined by the ‘seal’ on them,” said Raima Ganguly, a post-graduate student of comparative literature.

Sarkar is the second JU teacher to trigger outrage in recent weeks. Last week, JU authorities asked a teacher to vacate his quarters in compound within 15 days for allegedly thrashing his mother and throwing her out on a wintry night in December last year. Samir Das, an assistant professor of history, was also issued a show cause notice on January 4 and asked to respond within 15 days.

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