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Egg & tomato fire at Montek

Calcutta, Aug. 28: Some students of Presidency College protesting the price rise today hurled eggs and tomatoes at Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia while he was leaving the college after addressing a seminar.

However, the protesters missed him and police escorted unscathed Ahluwalia to his car.

Protesters from the SFI and the ultra-Left United Students’ Democratic Front (USDF) had earlier begun waving black flags and shouting slogans as soon as Ahluwalia stepped out of the seminar hall.

“There was no disruption during his speech. However, while he was leaving the hall, the students began demonstrating and there was a small melee,” said Amitabha Chatterjee, the college principal.

Ahluwalia later told PTI: “They are students and they have every right to protest.”

The seminar, which dwelt on the current perspectives on the Indian economy, was organised by the college’s Centre for Economic Studies. Ahluwalia spoke from 10.15am to 11.15am.

Eyewitnesses said a group of around 30 students stood outside the venue, Derozio Hall, with black flags and placards as Ahluwalia spoke.

One placard read: “American agent Montek Singh go back, UPA budget not for aam aadmi (common man). Answer Montek.”

As Ahluwalia stepped out of the hall, the students started shouting slogans against the UPA government. Suddenly, some of the protesters threw tomatoes and eggs at him.

“The Planning Commission’s faulty planning led to the farmer suicides in Vidarbha (in Maharashtra). We were also protesting the handover of mines in tribal areas to corporate houses,” said Soumya Mondal, a spokesperson for the USDF. “We hurled tomatoes and eggs as a mark of protest,” he added.

The SFI supporters, however, denied having hurled any tomatoes or eggs. “Since Ahluwalia is the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, we staged a protest,” he said.

Jawed Shamim, the joint commissioner of police, headquarters, said the demonstration was staged “all of a sudden by a group of students”. “There was no prior information about the demonstration. The students shouted slogans and dispersed,” he said. “We are not aware of anyone hurling anything.”

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