Twenty-four students' wing members of Madhya Pradesh Congress were arrested while around 200 taken into custody on Tuesday for trying to march to the chief minister's residence demanding a CBI probe into the dental and medical admission test (DMAT) scam.
Police allegedly also cane-charged the National Students' Union of India (NSUI) activists when they tried to cross over barricades forcefully. Water cannons were also used to disperse the hundreds of agitators.
The NSUI activists, led by party's national president Roji M John, tried to march from the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office on Tuesday afternoon to the CM's residence to press for a CBI investigation into the irregularities in the examination, held for selection to BDS, MBBS and MD seats in private medical and dental colleges of the state.
The Congress had earlier claimed that beneficiaries of the scam included a relative of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a charge strongly denied by the ruling BJP.
On Tuesday, police had set up barricades at the Shivaji Nagar square, barely 250 metres from the PCC office, saying that the NSUI workers did not have permission to march towards the CM's house. The agitators were, however, stopped much earlier, around four km from CM's residence.
As the angry protesters tried to break the barricades and scuffled with the police, they were allegedly cane-charged. A television journalist was injured in the incident.
Superintendent of police (SP), Bhopal south, Anshuman Singh, said the NSUI workers had not been given permission to march towards the CM's residence.
“When they (the NSUI activists) tried to defy the administration by moving ahead, the police stopped them,” Singh said. He, however, denied that the agitators were lathi-charged.
Singh confirmed that 24 NSUI workers were arrested under CrPC Section 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offence). “A case will be registered against the NSUI workers for stone pelting too,” he said.
For around two hours Link Road was out of bounds for commuters due to the NSUI demonstration and subsequent face-off with the police. During this period, all vehicles were diverted through other roads.The Link Road could be cleared by 2 pm after the barricades were removed.
The scam and the protest
The call for the protest march was given by the NSUI to raise the issue of DMAT scam. Yogesh Uprit, a key DMAT official and former director of the Professional Examination Board (PEB), was arrested recently, who subsequently had disclosed that a scam on lines of PEB was run in DMAT too. Here, candidates who paid the money, left answer-sheets blank and the officials filled the answer-sheets later to help them crack the exam and get the seat of their choice.
Every year around 1,500 seats are filled through DMAT. The money that exchanged hands for each seat was Rs15 lakh (dental), Rs 30-35 lakh (MBBS) and Rs1 crore (MD).