A rift in the run-up to a ‘reunion’ resulted in suspension of classes at Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), in Shibpur, on Friday, following nightlong clashes between rival students. The point of contention: an organising committee for a gala reunion of old boys.
Classes were kept suspended through Friday and other academic as well as administrative activity ground to a halt, with the faculty busy conducting a series of meetings to defuse the tension on campus.
Howrah superintendent Rajesh Kumar confirmed that an FIR had been lodged by the college authorities. Section 144 was clamped on campus and a strong police picket posted. “No arrests have been made, but the situation is under control,” said Kumar.
Sources in Shibpur police station said trouble broke out late on Thursday, soon after the authorities announced that the Chhatra Parishad-dominated Independent Consolidation (IC) had defeated the SFI in the race for all eight Rebecca (the re-union committee) seats.
“Around 11.30 pm, the winners took out a victory procession,” said a college official. “Suddenly, a clash broke out between some students near hostel no. 15. Trouble then spread to other hostels, with iron rods, lathis and brickbats flying around till dawn.”
The BE College Students’ Union (Becsu) office was ransacked, ceiling fans were pulled down, furniture was damaged and a portion of the room set on fire. Around 4 am, the authorities called in the cops from the nearby Shibpur police station to restore order. Three injured students had to be admitted to the institution-run students’ hospital on campus, where doctors confirmed on Friday that their condition was stable.
Those owing allegiance to the SFI blamed IC members for the trouble and alleged that they had been indulging in “such activities” for the past 14 years, ever since they established a stranglehold on Becsu.
Shyamal Mitra, president of the Chhatra Parishad committee of Howrah, however, said they would soon call a students’ strike in the area to protest “the failure of the BE College authorities to stop growing incidence of trouble on campus”.