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Deadlock continues for second day at Punjabi University; students divided

Uneasy calm prevailed at Punjabi University here for the second consecutive day on Friday, following Thursday's clash between students and police, in which 15 people were injured.

punjab Updated: Nov 21, 2014 22:02 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times

Uneasy calm prevailed at Punjabi University here for the second consecutive day on Friday, following Thursday's clash between students and police, in which 15 people were injured.

The deadlock between students and the university authorities continued as the students blocked the main gate of the university throughout the day.

The students are demanding cancellation of criminal cases registered against them and resignation of a case against the university's security officer.

However, the questions, including 'who called the police?' and 'who ordered the police assault on students' remained unanswered. Though the students and the university's senior officials sat several times for negotiations, but no solution to the issue was arrived at.

Indeed, university vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh has directed the senior administrative officer to prepare a detailed report of the sequence of events.

Patiala deputy commissioner Varun Roojam said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has sought a report into the matter and he has been watching every activity in the university.

"I am personally overseeing the situation. We will act totally on the merit basis without any prejudice. The issue will be resolved amicably," he said.

Students divided

The three main organizations - All India Students Federation (AISF), Students Federation of India (SFI), Punjabi University Research Scholars Association (PURSA) - which initiated the protest, have now started a hunger strike against the police 'repression' in front of the vice-chancellor's office.

Meanwhile, members of some other student unions formed an 11-member committee under the 'Police Zabar Virodhi Sanjha Morcha'. They are also sitting in front of the main gate of the university.

Representatives of the sanjha morcha accused the three organizations, which launched the agitation, of having backstabbed the students who were made to face the wrath of the police.

"If they wanted to observe hunger strike, then what was the need of blocking the main gate. They initiated the protest, and we only came in for their support, but they left us in lurch," members of the morcha said.

They added that they would continue their protest till university authorities take action against the security officer for the police action.

"We decided to shift our base from the main gate to the VC office after some elements, laced with deadly weapons, joined the protest at the main gate on Thursday afternoon, to foil our movement," said Summet Shammi, an AISF activist.

"To avoid any further violence due to these elements, we have decided to observe hunger strike," he added.

Unanswered questions

Who gave lathicharge order?

After more than 24 hours of the violent clash between the police and student it remains a mystery that who actually gave the order of lathicharge. Whether the university authorities pushed the police into the action or it was instant reaction from the police personnel?

As per the norms, the duty magistrate has to give such orders, but sub-divisional magistrate Gurpal Singh Chahal, who was present on the occasion, claimed that he didn't give any order of canecharge or physical assault.

"The situation deteriorated only when the students misbehaved and manhandled police officials. But I have not given any order of lathicharge," he said.

Where was the vice-chancellor?

Though the university V-C Jaspal Singh has ordered senior officials to prepare a detailed report, but he failed to appear physically before the DC and the SSP, who came to inquire into the matter.

Moreover, he has neither taken part in any meeting nor addressed the students regarding the demands so far. As per available information, he has allegedly left the university premises and watching the situation from outside.

First Published: Nov 21, 2014 21:55 IST