| Students of NIT, Rourkela, demonstrate in front of the institute’s main gate. Picture by Uttam Kumar Pal |
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 12: The campus of the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, which witnessed a violent clash between Indian and Afghan students on Saturday night, continues to remain tense.
Institute director Sunil Sarangi has appealed for peace and said a disciplinary committee had been constituted to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
“The committee will submit its report within a fortnight. We would have made good progress by the end of this week by recording the statements of the students involved in the clash and those who witnessed it. Accordingly, we will decide if the students should be issued a warning, penalised or expelled. The Afghan students will return to the campus after normality is restored,” said Sarangi.
The statement comes in the wake of a protest by hundreds of Indian students late last night. They squatted outside the institute’s main gate demanding expulsion of their Afghan classmates, who allegedly started the fracas and resorted to fisticuffs.
Sources said the heated exchange started after a group of Indian students asked their foreign counterparts to vacate an autorickshaw and walk down to their hostel so that they could go out for dinner in the same vehicle. As a scuffle ensued, friends of both groups rushed to the spot and started fighting.
Officials said at least six, including four of the foreigners, were injured in the clash following which the entire group of 23 Afghan students, besides one Israeli national, was moved to a guesthouse of the Rourkela Steel Plant amid tight security. An Indian student, who suffered critical head injuries in the attack, is undergoing treatment at Ispat General Hospital but has been declared out of danger after a CT scan.
However, the Indian students are not willing to relent. They have demanded that the FIRs against them be withdrawn and the Afghan students involved in the clash be expelled. Nearly 4,500 Indian students are studying at this premier engineering institute.
Additional superintendent of police Sudarshan Sethi said both groups had lodged FIRs on Sunday evening within a gap of 30 minutes. “Two cases have been registered. We are closely monitoring the situation. We will provide all support to the institute officials as and when they require it,” he said.