| An Utkal University student speaks to DCP Nitinjeet Singh at Vani Vihar in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 8: Tension gripped the Saheed Nagar police station this evening with two groups of Utkal University students smashing glass doors and windowpanes while hurling abuses and allegations at each other.
The bigger group blocked the National Highway No. 5 for nearly 20 minutes alleging that the other assaulted two of their friends at the police station. They demanded arrest of the accused. As tension continued till late at night, two platoons of police were deployed at the site.
Sources said a group of four second-year girls of the integrated law course at Utkal University had gone to the police station this afternoon to lodge a complaint against a few third-year students for allegedly threatening them.
They alleged that their seniors verbally abused them because they did not take part in the election of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) yesterday.
Acting on the complaint, Saheed Nagar police had detained two third-year boys. But friends of those detained alleged that a group of youths had motivated the girls to lodge the complaint and that they had also assaulted the detainees in front of the police.
This allegation of assault prompted nearly 200 students to rush to the detainees’ aid at the police station. In a bid to attack the other group locked inside the office of the assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Bishnu Mishra, they vandalised the room, damaging the door and windowpanes.
A student leader, Ajay Kumar Pani, said that on Thursday, election to different posts of the NSUI, Odisha chapter, was held at Utkal University. However, some differences between a few second-year and third-year law students cropped up.
“The girls were motivated by some students and outsiders to bring allegations against their seniors. While the Saheed Nagar police had detained two third-year students, the conspirators assaulted our friends at the police station but the cops remained mere spectators,” said Pani.
Opposing police inaction, the students blocked the National Highway No. 5 for 20-odd minutes, bringing traffic to a standstill. But the police later chased them away.
Saheed Nagar police, however, said there was no assault on any student at the police station.
“We have received complaints from both the groups. We will investigate the matter and take appropriate steps,” said Bhubaneswar deputy commissioner of police Nitinjeet Singh.
The police said today’s incident was the fallout of a longstanding dispute between two groups of university students that began prior to the students’ union election last October. This had forced the authorities to cancel the campus polls last year and 11 students and outsiders were arrested.