Students of Manipal University Jaipur (MUJ) have been protesting since midnight of October 8 after police personnel allegedly beat up 11 students outside the Yoha hostel gate. The alleged incident took place when three policemen used batons to disperse some students who were on their way back from a concert that was organised as part of their annual cultural festival.
“We were having food at Kumawat dhaba around 10.45 pm when two police vehicles stopped nearby. 3 policemen came running and started beating us with lathis without giving a reason. Though we ran inside the college to save our lives, we were shocked to see that everyone else on the road was being beaten. The vehicles were damaged as well,” said one of the complainants. The students have also alleged that one of the policemen was inebriated. Later, the victims went to the trauma centre where no major injuries were reported.
Following the incident, around midnight, hundreds of students gathered at the hostel gates and started shouting slogans. With the escalation of protests, Bagru Police Station House Officer (SHO) Rajender Singh Shekhawat was forced to come to college. Shekhawat addressed the protesters at around 2 am. Though Shekhawat promised a probe into the matter, students continued with their protest.
The students have also alleged that the security guards were simply standing by as they were being beaten. “The Chief Security Officer (CSO), Ratan Singh was standing in front of the security block and watching the students being beaten up,” added another victim, who wished to be anonymous. When contacted, Singh declined to comment. “I am not authorised to talk on the whole issue,” Singh said.
While the protests continued throughout the night on October 8, students also urged everyone to boycott their classes on October 9, until administration responded to their demand. However, students received an email from the university registrar’s office on Monday morning informing them that the classes had been suspended due to the unrest on campus.
With the campus still tense, the university Vice-Chancellor Sandeep Sancheti addressed students around 4:30 pm on October 9.“ The VC said that the administration is not accountable for whatever happened on Sunday [October 8] as it happened outside the campus premises,” said a B.Tech second year student under condition of anonymity.
SHO denies students’ allegations
When contacted, SHO Shekhawat declined any use of lathis against the students. “We received a call around 10:30 pm on Sunday, which stated that some ‘outsiders’ were creating a chaos outside the university hostel and help was needed. Accordingly, a team of four police personnel — a head constable, two jawans and one driver — reached the spot by 11 pm and dispersed the students without force,” Shekhawat told Newslaundry.
Shekhawat also denied students’ allegation that one of the officers was drunk. “I don’t think the cops were drunk and I know that the two jawans don’t drink at all,” said Shekhawat. “The probe is still on and we need to wait for a better picture. We are trying to access CCTV footages as well,” he added.
What administration says
The varsity registrar Vandana Suhag said that a committee has been formed to look into the matter. “We have also received complaints from students and we are looking into it. We usually seek police help to control the mob when celebrities come to campus. That day also, the police were doing their rounds outside the campus as Hardy Sandhu had come for a concert and we don’t know what exactly happened. But, nothing has happened inside the campus,” Suhag said.
Newslaundry also reached out to the VC of the college through email. The piece will be updated as and when the VC responds.
The protest is still on as students are demanding the resignation of CSO and Chief Warden Anil Kumar. “How intoxicated officers feel so secure in their positions and beat up students crossing a road without any warning? We want the authorities to answer this. We want an apology. We want justice,” said another B.Tech third year student.
(Originally written by Shantam Sahai for Newslaundry.com and republished at Aapka Times)