Damaged car of the director of SLIET at Longowal in Sangrur. Bharat Bhushan/HT
Hundreds of students of Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) went berserk on the campus on Monday in protest against the management's "anti-student" decisions, including fine of Rs. 100 for every lecture missed.
Students set afire several vehicles, laboratories, department buildings and the record room. They also smashed windowpanes and airconditioners in the auditorium, administrative block and several departments.
Earlier, students gathered outside institute director Sunil Pandey's office in the morning and sought the withdrawal of the management's decisions such as "100% attendance" in the upcoming academic session, mandatory Rs. 2,500 mess bill per month, course repetition in case one fails in any subject, and a ban on the use of motor vehicles by students on the campus.
Trouble started when the director allegedly refused to meet the protesters. Enraged by his refusal, students damaged his Corolla car, forcing the management to call the police.
About 50 police personnel rushed to the spot. The cops resorted to a lathicharge when students tried to barge into the director's office. The police also fired several rounds of teargas and rubber shells, besides shots in the air, to disperse the crowd, but to no avail. Students ransacked office property despite police presence, while management officials locked themselves in rooms to escape the protesters' wrath.
Two cops, one student and one lecturer were injured in the melee. Following the police action, students demanded that the director be sacked immediately.
Talking to HT, superintendent of police (SP) Paramjeet Singh Goraya said, "For the time being, we have managed to control the situation and efforts are on to defuse the tension."
"No student has been detained. No case has been registered so far," he added. Senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu could not be contacted for comment.
Meanwhile, AP Singh, dean, student welfare, SLIET, said the students had misunderstood the decision on attendance. "The mandatory attendance is 75%. The imposition of fine is aimed at making students attend as many lectures as possible," he clarified.
"Our several meetings with students' representatives have proved futile," he said, adding that strict disciplinary and penal action would be taken against students involved in the ruckus.
Senior officials of the administration, including subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Gurinderpal Singh Sahota, reportedly reached the spot after the violence subsided.
Cops caught off-guard
* Students were opposing decisions such as fine of Rs. 100 for every lecture missed, mandatory Rs. 2,500 mess bill per month, course repetition in case one fails in any subject, and ban on use of motor vehicles by students on the campus
* Only 50 police personnel were pressed into service to control hundreds of unruly students.
The back-up force was called only after students "overpowered" the cops led by deputy superintendent of police Gurmeet Kaur.
* Sources said there was a shortage of police personnel in the district as a large number of them had been sent to SAS Nagar for security duty at the Indian cricket league match on Monday.
* The SLIET, a deemed university, is located at Longowal village, 15km from here, and is named after Akali leader Sant Harcharan Singh Longowal, who was gunned down by militants in 1985.