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Four hurt in Utkal violence

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 3: Violence erupted on the Utkal University campus after a brief lull with seven students, including a former students’ union president, suffering injuries in an early morning attack by thugs.

The thugs also torched three motorcycles. Four persons, including two students of the university, have been arrested in connection with the incident that took place around 2am. Vice-chancellor P.K. Sahu said efforts were being made to restore peace on campus.

Sources said the boarders of Hostel No. 1 were asleep when around 50 persons armed with wooden clubs and sticks barged in and attacked them.

Among those injured was Tanmay Swain, who was rushed to a private hospital in the city, and another six, who were also beaten up. Tanmay was hit on the head and another student Trilochan Behera suffered severe injuries in the leg.

Following the incident, students of the university gheraoed the Saheed Nagar police station demanding action against the guilty. The agitating students also closed the main gate of the university.

Eyewitnesses said the thugs had covered their faces with handkerchiefs and also locked other rooms of the hostel from outside so that no one could come to the rescue of students who were attacked.

“Around 2am, I saw about 50 persons entering the hostel. They warned me not to shout and broke the lock of the hostel to enter,” said an employee of the hostel, Dhirendra Mohapatra. The thugs also torched three motorcycles kept inside the hostel.

Senior police officials suspect that the incident was a fallout of rivalry between students who appear to have hired the goons to carry out the attack. “We are investigating whether the incident is linked to a clash that took place between two groups on the campus in July,” said a police officer.

In the July incident, too, seven students had sustained injuries.

As soon as the news spread on the campus, hundreds of students gheraoed the Saheed Nagar police station demanding immediate arrest of those involved in the attack. The Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police have deployed cops on the campus.

The injured students also alleged the role of some of the persons who were involved in the July clash. “The campus atmosphere has turned violent because of the presence of thugs who are not students. The police must take stringent actions against them,” said Ajay Pani, an injured student.

On the basis of an FIR lodged by the hostel students, the police have arrested four persons, including two students of the university.

They were sent to jail after their bail pleas were rejected. Police sources said one of the persons involved in the violence during the September 6 Congress rally in the city also had a role in today’s violence on the campus.

The incident led to suspension of some classes at the university because of zero attendance.

It has also raised questions regarding security on campus, which was beefed up following the incident on July 13.

“If thugs in such large numbers can enter a hostel, what is the meaning of security?” asked a student.

The authorities were at a loss to understand the reasons for violence since a decision to cancel the student union elections had been taken on July 21.

The university authorities said they were keeping an eye on the situation.

“We have already lodged a FIR in connection with the incident. We are keeping a close watch on the situation and efforts are being made to restore peace on campus,” said vice-chancellor of Utkal University P.K. Sahu, who is currently outside the state on official tour.