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Dual protest on campus & street

Student protests have become a regular affair at Patna University as the union election approached but on Thursday, trouble spilled out of the campus and onto the streets.

The students’ wing of the ruling JD(U) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) staged protest on the campus against provisions of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, such as the age limit for candidates or baring contestants who have a criminal record.

While one demonstration disrupted the regular activities at the university office, the other blocked traffic on Ashok Rajpath outside, leading to problems for commuters, who have nothing to do with the students’ election.

Around 12.30pm on Thursday, more than 50 NCP students’ wing members arrived at the Patna University gate on Ashok Rajpath. They started burning tyres and raising slogans for their demands.

They also blocked the busy thoroughfare for half-an-hour. Children returning home from school and professionals out on duty were trapped in the ensuing snarl.

Gajendra Paswan, a businessman on his way to Patna City, was one of the commuters stuck in the traffic jam. “I was coming from the Gandhi Maidan area and am now stuck here. There are no alternative routes that I can take. So, I shall have to wait here till the blockade is lifted,” he said, adding that he feared he would be late for his business appointment.

While the hullabaloo continued outside the university, there was no sign of peace on campus either.

More than 100 JD(U) members were staging a dharna in front of the university office. They threatened to disrupt the students’ election in the university — slated on December 11 after an interval of 29 years — if the authorities did not make alterations to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. “We shall not allow the students’ union elections to be held if the university authorities do not change the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations,” said Munawar Alam, the vice-president of JD(U) students’ wing.

The dual protests got the university authorities jittery. Fearing that the situation might turn volatile at any moment, they informed the Pirbahore police station. A contingent of policemen arrived on campus around 1pm and lifted both the blockades.

While trouble brewed at one end of the campus, students put their heads together and chalked out plans at the other end. For them, the protests presented a perfect opportunity to make jibes at their political opponents.

“Our organisation is also demanding changes to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations but we condemn the manner in which some students’ organisations are staging protests and causing problems for university employees and others,” said All-India Students’ Association state secretary Abhyudaya.