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‘Cops Barged into Hostels, Lodge and Beat up Students’: Prayagraj Students Recount Horror

There is anger among students on the manner in which the police cracked down on even those who did not participate in the protests against ‘anomalies’ in RRB exams.
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Lucknow: The police lathicharge on students protesting in Prayagraj (Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh against the Railway Recruitment Board exam mess-up, is throwing up some horror stories with some students clearly traumatised by the crackdown.

"We were doing group study when suddenly a bunch of policemen barged into our hostel and started breaking doors, glass and chairs and even tore apart our books. Before we could understand what was happening, they started beating us and when we resisted, they abused us. We kept telling the police that we were not part of any protest but they did not stop," Raghav Mishra, an aspirant who was beaten by Prayagraj police, told NewsClick.

Recounting the horror and brutal crackdown by the police, Mishra said: “We were pleading, a few among us were bleeding and asked for medical help but no heed was paid to our requests. What was our crime? How can police enter hostels and beat students without any reason?” An angry Mishra said now students who were not even part of the protest will show the power of youth in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Another student, Subham Gaur, said the experience was nightmarish. "We were inside the hostel when the police barged in. Around 20 policemen came from the entrance gate and a few were in front of the gate. We told them we were not involved in the protest. They didn’t listen,” said Gaur, who suffered injuries on his legs and head.

After the police crackdown, Salori and Baghada areas in the city bore a deserted look. The areas were quite tense on Wednesday after the alleged police attack on protesting job aspirants. On Thursday, too, both the areas saw heavy deployment of police. A large number of students have already left for their homes or moved elsewhere due to alleged police high-handedness.

Overall, there is a lot of resentment against the police action among residents in the areas, many of whom feel that the method adopted by the police was very wrong. The police had entered the lodges and hostels by breaking the doors.

A video of the incident had surfaced on social media, following which Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had condemned the use of force against job aspirants who had gathered there in protest against alleged irregularities in a railway recruitment exam. An intense protest by aspirants is already going on across Bihar.

On Tuesday, a group of aspirants protesting against alleged anomalies in the result of non-technical popular category (NTPC) exam conducted by RRB for the past two days were lathicharged by the Prayagraj police. Some students were said to be injured and they had been hospitalised. The incident happened when aspirants in large numbers tried to obstruct a train at Prayag railway station.

Meanwhile, six policemen were suspended with immediate effect for using unnecessary force during the incident on Tuesday. Also, the Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday arrested two people and lodged a case against around 1,000 unidentified persons in connection with alleged rioting and blocking of the rail track at the local railway station by some job aspirants.

Ajay Kumar, SSP Prayagraj, said the cops had been placed under suspension for their alleged high-handedness on students at a private hostel while carrying out a raid on Tuesday night.

The SSP also met students and appealed them to cooperate with the police, alleging that “innocent students were being provoked by some so-called student leaders on false promises”.

According to students unions, a meeting was called at Prayag junction where aspirants in large numbers assembled and then moved to the tracks. Seeing the crowd, police reached the spot with railway officials and tried to pacify the students. However, they used forces when the aspirants refused to disperse.
The protesting students later sat on a dharna before Kanpur Intercity train and started raising slogans. Forces of many police stations along with government railway police (GRP) and railway protection force (RPF) reached the spot and tried to pacify the protestors. The protest continued for around-one-and-a-half hours. Different student organisations, including Yuva Manch and Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha participated in the protest.

The Prayagraj police, however, denied any lathicharge. The police chief alleged the protesting youth, who had come from Prayagraj, Ghazipur and other towns, had tried to obstruct trains at Prayag junction where aspirants in large numbers assembled and then moved to the tracks. They were not agreeable to move and hence they had to be pushed aside, he added.

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