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V-C ‘hostage’ in chamber

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 20: L.N. Mishra, the vice-chancellor of Utkal University, was “locked up” in his own office for over three hours today.

Students angry over postponement of elections were responsible for the act and they gave the official “24 hours” to revert the decision.

Allegedly giving way to pressure from a section of students, Mishra postponed the elections last night, hours after announcing that the same would be held on March 1.

Today, a group of university students waited for the vice-chancellor outside his chamber and followed him inside when he arrived.

“We could hear them arguing with the vice-chancellor to re-announce the election. They also broke some vases and decorative items,” alleged Gauranaga Rath, a senior university employee.

A team was sent from Saheed Nagar police station but the students refused to open the door. They continued to argue and some sources alleged that they also threatened Mishra with “dire consequences” if he did not re-announce the polls.

After the door was opened around 1.15 pm, a perspiring Mishra came out, followed by the agitating students. “The election has been postponed for an indefinite period,” the vice-chancellor declared.

Prakash Mishra, one of the students who had gone inside, said: “It’s a 24-hour deadline. If the election is not declared by 2 am tomorrow, we can go to any extent.”

The university had issued a notification yesterday afternoon announcing that the student union elections would be held on March 1. The authorities later changed their stand.

As many as 31 students had earlier been booked by Saheed Nagar police station in connection with a case of violence on the university campus.

A student had filed an FIR on September 27 against 31 persons and all of them had been arrested and later released on bail.

Some students were reportedly annoyed over the university’s “failure” to get the cases withdrawn before announcement of the poll date.

“But I am helpless as the university can hardly help in this matter,” said the vice-chancellor.

Reacting to the developments, chairman of the postgraduate council Manoranjan Mohapatra tendered his resignation from the post last night.

“We will decide on our course of action after taking stock of the situation,” Mishra said. A meeting held in the afternoon was still on when reports last came in.

Khurda superintendent of police Amitabh Thakur said: “The only way out is filing a compromise petition.”

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