| Upturned chairs at the bar after the brawl. Picture by Biplab Basak
Siliguri, Nov. 14: Fourteen would-be engineers, studying in different streams at Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College, were arrested and released on personal bond in Jalpaiguri today.
The arrests came as a sequel to a drunken brawl, in which all of them were allegedly involved in beating the staff of a local bar and ransacking it last night.
“Many of them often drop in at our bar at odd hours. There have been several incidents of verbal altercation which our employees had complained about earlier,” said Soujanya Sanyal, the general manager of the only two-star hotel and bar in town. “But yesterday, it was a full-blown assault on our staff. The bar was also damaged by the rampaging students.”
“Yesterday around 11 pm, when we stop serving liquor at the bar, about 18-20 students of the college trooped in,” Sanyal said. “When our stewards and the bar manager refused to serve them drinks, they jumped over the counter and started beating them. They also broke the glass door, furniture and utensils. The estimated loss is around Rs 35,000.”
The fracas went on until police rushed to the spot and intervened.It was followed by a complaint by Sanyal and a counter-complaint by the students who alleged that the bartenders had assaulted them.
The police picked up 14 of the students after the incident. “Acting on the complaint, we arrested all of them for their involvement in the melee,” Tapash Das, the additional superintendent of police, Jalpaiguri, said. “They were later released on personal bond. Investigations are on.”
The Jalpaiguri Hoteliers & Trading Pvt. Ltd, which owns the hotel, has also sent a letter to the principal secretary of the higher education department, alleging that some students of the college are committing such offence in the middle of the night on regular basis in Jalpaiguri town.
“The practice must be stopped. On many occasions, we have heard from our staff that these students flock to the bar with liquor bought from outside,” Gautam Das, the director of the company, said. “They order one-two pegs at the bar and consume the liquor they bring with them, occupying the seats for hours.”
The college authorities, however, have decided to wait and watch. “We have come to know that something of this type (the scuffle and ransack) has happened in which some of students were allegedly involved,” J. Jhampati, the principal of the college, said. “However, we cannot say anything specific about it unless we receive reports from the superintendents of the respective hostels.”
The principal also confirmed that the college functioned normally today. None of the students or representatives of their union could be contacted.