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Troops raise ruckus on college campus

Dibrugarh, Sept. 19: Soldiers in civvies raided a college campus in Assam today and assaulted seven students in front of their teachers and classmates for allegedly having links with Ulfa.

The army denied any such incident occurred at Margherita College in Tinsukia district, but the damage was done. Students hit the streets almost immediately and headed towards the office of the subdivisional officer (civil) to demand disciplinary action against the army personnel.

The protesters handed a memorandum to extra assistant commissioner Arundhuti Chakravarty, demanding action against the soldiers within 24 hours.

The general secretary of the Margherita College Students’ Union, Munin Bora, said the army team entered the campus around noon and called out seven students by name one by one. “They slap-ped and kicked our classmates like criminals or militants.”

Some girl students were questioned, too. The soldiers allegedly misbehaved with them.

The assaulted students are Abhijit Kakoty and Brojen Deka from the higher secondary second-year class, Khagen Mech and Partha Pratim Saikia from the first-year class, Pankaj Bora and Bidhan Bhattacharjee from the BCom first year class and Aikon Pomong from the BA final year class.

Capt. Tarun Kharb of the Margherita-based camp of the 19 Kumaon Regiment led the four-member team.

The commanding officer of the regiment, Col Virendra Vats, said the team did visit Margherita College but there was no violence.

“The officer went to meet the college management to verify inputs about some Ulfa members and their conduits masquerading as students and doing their work quietly,” the army officer said.

Principal Budhin Gogoi was in Guwahati for official work and vice-principal Pronob Gogoi was in charge of the college when the incident occurred.

“The army does not have any business entering the campus in such fashion,” the vice-principal said.

The AASU’s information secretary, Pulak Gohain, said all college students in Tinsukia district would wear black badges tomorrow in protest against the incident.

A two-hour sit-in demonstration with their faces masked by black cloth will also be held on the college campus from 11am.

The deputy commissioner (in-charge) of Tinsukia, Jayant Narlikar, said subdivisional officer Jogesh Baruah was asked to conduct a probe and file a report tomorrow.

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