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Students ransack sandbar

Retaliating in waves after denied free rides, a group of Patna University students allegedly damaged two all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and ransacked Ganga Dolphin Plaza at Sabbalpur Diara on Friday and manhandled some revellers, including women, at the hangout hotspot on Republic Day.

Several other students riding on a boat surrounded another ferrying visitors in the middle of the Ganga and started beating up men and women on Saturday. On their way back, the enraged youths shattered windshields of nearly 50 vehicles at Gandhi Ghat.

As a part of the sandbar is under the jurisdiction of Sonepur police in Saran district and another under Pirbahore police station area, cops from both the police stations arrived and intercepted four misbehaving students. But they were forced to set them free under pressure from a large number of students.

Raj Shekhar, the proprietor of Ramsons Internationals, which runs the two ATVs at the sandbar, said: “Around 20 college students entered into a heated argument with my employees on Friday afternoon, demanding free rides on the ATVs. My employees clearly told them that they could avail the ride only by paying Rs 50. But the students refused to pay. They returned to the sandbar with 20 more youths in the evening and manhandled my staff, damaged the two ATVs and ransacked Ganga Dolphin Plaza. I filed an FIR at Sonepur police station against several unnamed students from Jackson Hostel based on the statement of my employees.”

Jackson Hostel houses Patna University students.

Shekhar said he would bring the ATVs back from diara on Monday for repair. He said the operations would resume after the administration assured him of protection.

The violence on Friday was just the prelude of what happened on Republic Day. The weather being sunny, several people thronged the sandbar on Saturday. Sonepur police personnel also reached there after Shekhar filed an FIR against the Friday’s incident.

The station house officer (SHO) of Sonepur police station said: “We arrived at the diara on Saturday morning and recorded the statements of people, who operate different facilities. Then, I left several constables at the spot and went to Pirbahore police station to talk to the SHO for further co-ordination. As soon as I returned to Gandhi Ghat, I saw a group of youngsters coming from Krishna Ghat on a boat with hockey sticks, cricket stumps, iron chains and rods. The boat went close to another returning from Sabbalpur Diara to Gandhi Ghat. The youngsters jumped on to that boat and started beating up men and women. We rushed to the spot but by the time we reached, most youngsters fled and we could nab only four of them.”

An FIR was lodged at Sonepur police station on the basis of the statements of several policemen present at the spot at the time of the incident. But the cops could not put the four youths behind bars because hundreds of youngsters arrived at Gandhi Ghat and made violent protests.

“Considering the presence of hundreds of families, including children and women, we decided to set the nabbed youngsters free to avert any other untoward incident,” said an officer of Pirbahore police station in Patna. He claimed that the youngsters were from Jackson Hostel, Minto Hostel and New Hostel.

Boasting their victory on setting their friends free, the youngsters resorted to vandalism again while returning from Gandhi Ghat. They broke windscreens and headlights of several vehicles, including 20 of Kerala Club members.

Agitated over the damage to the vehicles, the Kerala Club members blocked Ashok Rajpath for nearly an hour in the evening. “The police seemed entirely indifferent to the incident. Our vehicles were damaged right in front of their eyes and they did nothing. We were not at all satisfied with their response. So we squatted on Ashok Rajpath for nearly an hour and filed an FIR against unnamed individuals at Pirbahore police station,” said Jyotish V. Nair, a member of Kerala Club.

Tourism minister Sunil Kumar appeared to be partially in the dark on the developments. He said a scuffle over parking at Gandhi Ghat triggered the violence on Saturday evening.

“We will ask the district administration to make some alternative arrangements for parking. I have asked the SSP to deploy additional force at the diara,” said Sunil Kumar.