A day after destroying property at the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) here, students failed to build consensus with the deemed university management.
Unlike Monday, there was no violence and arson and though all their other demands were agreed, students continued to be adamant on the last: the resignation of institute director Sunil Pandey. Even written assurances from senior officials in the district administration and negotiations by state finance minister Parminder Singh Dhinda, who visited the campus in the morning, failed to budge them.
Campus under siege
Hundreds of police personnel, including commandos, seized the campus, 15 kilometres from Sangrur to prevent more riot after on Monday, students had set the record room, laboratories, and a few vehicles and rooms on fire. They also smashed windowpanes and air-conditioners in the auditorium, administrative block, and many teaching departments. "Monday's rampage damaged property worth Rs. 2.5 crore," said dean of student welfare (DSW) AP Singh.
Director sent away into hiding
Deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul and senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh are camping in the university since Monday night, when SLIET also moved its director out of Sangrur for his security.
Flag march after more destruction at hostels
On Tuesday, the DC and senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu led a police flag march on the campus around 1am after students smashed some lights and windowpanes at hostels 9 and 10.
The closing of hostel messes and cafeterias failed to discourage the students, as even girls spent Monday night under the open sky and continued to protest and raise slogans. The Punjab Students Union, Naujwan Bharat Sabha, and Student Organisation of India (SOI) have joined the agitation.
When the annual examinations at the deemed university are to begin on Thursday, students have pitched tents near university's bus stand to sit there on indefinite protest. They are arranging their meals from the community kitchens of local gurdwaras.
The students want withdrawal of conditions such as 100% attendance, Rs. 100 fine for each lecture missed, mandatory mess bill for Rs. 2,500 a month, course repetition in case of failing any subject, and the ban on motor vehicles.
All objected rules withdrawn
On Tuesday, members of the SLIET management, including registrar Amardeep Singh Dhaliwal, dean of student welfare (DSW) AP Singh, and other functionaries spoke with students and told them the conditions were withdrawn. "The students, however, insisted that the director also be expelled, which was an illogical demand," said the DSW. Monday's riot was pre-planned and undemocratic. Students should have tried talking to us instead."
The DC and SSP went to the students with written assurances of meeting their demands but the protesters tore off the letter in front of the senior officials. Later, even heads of many departments made futile attempts to pacify students.
Want to settle it without force: DC
"All student demands, including lowering the minimum attendance to 75%, are met. The protest now is unnecessary. We don't want to use force against students, so attempts are on to convince them," said the DC.
The college management called up the students' parents and asked them to take their wards back. The deadlock continues, and until the filing of this report, no side had blinked.
Entrance test likely be postponed
The All-India SLIET Entrance Test (SET) is likely to be postponed from May 25, after the examination record room was burnt during Monday's violence.
Nearly 18,000 students had applied to sit the test, said DSW AP Singh. The application forms, along with the details, were set ablaze. "We are left with no information about candidates to be able to despatch admit cards. The test is likely to be postponed," the DSW added.