| Policemen search a room in Jackson Hostel in the presence of a boarder on Friday. Telegraph picture |
Iron rods, hockey sticks, lathis, sharp-edged weapons and splinters used in making bombs were seized during police raids at various Patna University hostels early on Friday morning.
With four days left for the varsity students’ union election, police conducted the raids to check any act of violence before and on the polling day.
Pirbahore police station inspector S.H. Hashmi said: “We conducted the raid on the direction of Patna University as a preventive measure to avoid any untoward incident during campaigning and on the election day.”
Sources said the deputy superintendent of police, law and order, Vivekanand, led personnel from Pirbahore, Gandhi Maidan and Kotwali police stations to conduct the joint operation around 6am, when most of the students were sleeping.
Each room in Minto, Jackson, Iqbal, Nadvi and New hostels (all under Patna College) and Patel Hostel (under PU) were thoroughly searched. Hashmi added: “Though no firearm was found in the hostel rooms, hockey sticks, iron rods and some splinters were recovered.”
University sources said similar raids would be carried out and all the rooms in the hostels would be evacuated by December 9.
Patna University proctor Kriteshwar Prasad said: “The raids were conducted following the violence on the Patna University campus on the last day of filing nominations last Saturday.” The proctor added that the Patna High Court decision of quashing the appointments of six vice-chancellors, including that of Patna University, Shambhu Nath Singh, was not going to affect the students’ union election slated for December 11.
Prasad added that the university would take all necessary steps to ensure free and fair election, including providing list of all booths along with number of voters in each and list of candidates contesting the election.
Hostel boarders were, however, upset about the raids. A boarder of Minto hostel, preferring anonymity, said: “Whenever there is any violence at the university, the police first suspect the boarders and raid the hostels.” The student added that during the raids, they were forced to stay in their rooms and were not allowed to leave the hostel premises even after submission of identity cards.
Patna senior superintendent of police Amrit Raj said all polling stations would be manned by armed police forces to foil any attempt to rig or mar the election. “Instructions have been issued to the police stations concerned to make preventive arrests to ensure free, fair and violence-free elections,” he said.
On Friday, different students’ organisations and Independents continued to campaign at various colleges.
Tej Pratap, the son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and a student of BN College, campaigned for candidates backed by the RJD students’ wing at his college for the first time.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI)-backed candidates campaigned at Patna College, Patna Science College and Darbhanga House. During his campaign at Patna College, Prabhat Kumar, contesting for the general secretary’s post with the NSUI support, claimed that modernisation of the university and timely declaration of results would be his top priorities.
A meeting of all college principals and departmental heads to discuss the poll preparations in different colleges was convened at the varsity’s administrative block on Friday.