Allahabad Varsity: 'It Was Riot-Like Situation...Admin Wants to Discredit Dissent', Allege Students
Prayagraj: Security personnel stand guard during a protest by Allahabad University students that erupted after a students' leader allegedly stopped from entering the campus on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (PTI Photo)
Lucknow: Several students were injured in Allahabad University after violence broke out on the campus late Monday evening. This followed a tense day between two groups – student leaders and security guards – with the former alleging an attempt to stop a former student leader entering the campus and manhandling him and the latter alleging that the said leader slapped the guard for stopping him.
Visuals emerged on social media from the campus showing a student with a bloodied forehead, another with injuries on his back, and a third with a bleeding palm. Two cars were damaged and motorcycles were torched in violence, said reports.
Police intervened to manage the intensified scuffle between the guards and students. But, as per some eyewitnesses, security guards opened fire as the clash intensified, which injured around six students and some policemen.
"It was around 2:30 pm. Vivekanand Pathak, a former student leader of Allahabad University, along with his wife, came to the SBI bank branch inside the campus. However, a security guard stopped his car and refused to let him enter. Pathak called up a bank employee and told the guard to speak to him. If “you do not believe me talk to him, he is a bank employee”, he said. At this, the guard threw the mobile away and started abusing Pathak. When the argument escalated, the guard attacked Pathak with the butt of his gun,” Ajay Yadav Samrat, a student leader and eyewitness told NewsClick.
He added: “Seeing this, some students nearby came and rescued Pathak. Later, the guards went to the proctor’s office and nearly after an hour, they came with an iron rod, pistol, hockey stick, etc. They were around 250 in number and not a single guard was empty handed; they came with the intention to kill the students. There must have been about 5-6 rounds of firing," alleged Samrat, who has been part of the protest in the campus for the past one year against fee hike and restoration of the students' union.
"The question is, where did the security guards get the weapon and rod from? If they are not arrested within 24 hours, we will intensify our protest. Action against administration should also be taken, at whose behest the guards attacked,” alleged Samrat.
Pathak, the ex-student leader, has also been part of a prolonged protest at the campus over fee hike that has been going on for the past 882 days led by Samrat. The students allege that the fees for undergraduate courses, which was Rs 975 a year, has been hiked over 300% to Rs 4,151.
Harendra Yadav, a native of Ghazipur, who is pursuing Masters from Allahabad University and was injured during the violence, told NewsClick: "The proctorial team intervened to pacify the situation between the security guards and student leaders. Things were sorted out. We asked Pathak to bring sweets to distribute to those who were present on the ground. Later, the same guards who were waiting for sweets, came with iron rods, pistols and hockey stick and started beating us black and blue. I nearly escaped being lynched.”
An FIR, accessed by NewsClick, has been registered against six students including Harendra Yadav, Vivekanand Pathak, Ajay Yadav Samrat, Abhishek Yadav, Rahul Patel, Navneet Singh, Satyam Kushwaha in a case under Section 147, 323, 336, 427, 435, 504, 392 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"We were beaten by the security guards mercilessly and have also booked by the administration. It was a riot-like situation,” said Sumit Singh, an eyewitness who lives on the campus and said his wife was chased by the mob. She escaped unhurt.
Meanwhile, an official statement from Allahabad University said it will remain shut on Tuesday in wake of the violence as “unknown elements” broke open the locks of the university gates that resulted in the clash between them and guards.
"In view of the unfortunate incidents of violence and serious misconduct that has taken place today, wherein unknown elements broke open the locks of the University gates which resulted in violence between them and the Guards. Stone pelting and torching of vehicles have led to a panic-stricken situation, work in University shall remain suspended tomorrow i.e. 20 of December 2022. This is issued with the approval of Hon'ble Vice Chancellor," the official statement issued by Allahabad University stated.
Meanwhile, a general house meeting was organised where senior students and ex-student leaders were present to decide the future course of action.
Commenting over the incident, Richa Singh, a former student and the first woman president of the Allahabad University Students’ Union, who was present in the meeting, told NewsClick: "It was the first time in the history of Allahabad University that students were beaten with rods, that too in front of the police. This was a pre-planned strategy to discredit the ongoing protest which has been going on for more than a year in democratic and Gandhian way. It is shameful that instead of dialogue and communication with students, the administration chose violence," she said, adding that university is a place of discussion not a violence, but the administration was leaving no stone unturned to turn this place into a battleground.
"The university administration should take moral responsibility for the violence and should take strict action against those involved in firing at the students. If the culprits are not booked, the university will witness massive protests from tomorrow," she added.
The former students' union president said that for the past two years, dozens of cases have been registered against students in different cases. “By doing so, the administration was trying to make students into goonda (criminals), which they will not let happen,” Singh added.
NewsClick attempted to contact the university spokesperson and proctor via calls and messages, but failed to receive a response.
However, an official deputed on the campus told NewsClick: "The situation is now under control. There are minor injuries. A few of them have been taken to hospital and are recuperating well. We have stepped up deployment at the campus." The official added that students from both sides were injured in the clash, including the ones who had tried to stop the violence.
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