|Manipur Institute of Technology students at the local community hall on Sunday night.
Picture by UB Photos
Imphal, Sept. 23: More than 70 students of the Manipur Institute of Technology here fled their hostels last night after police mounted a crackdown on striking students present on the campus last evening. They have taken shelter at a nearby community hall.
About 400 students of the 15-year-old institute under Manipur University have been agitating since September 15, demanding removal of the principal in-charge, Th. Kulachandra, for alleged mismanagement. They have been holding a relay hunger strike on the campus.
Yesterday, the police fired tear gas shells and lobbed smoke bombs at a group of students staging the hunger strike, following which they fled the hostels. Later in the evening, they assembled at the gate of the institute and took shelter at Yengkhom Leirak community hall at Takyelpat, barely 1km from the institute and about 4km west of Imphal city. “We are taking shelter here since last night. We are not allowed to stay at the hostels and the campus by the police since yesterday’s crackdown,” Chingangbam Chiranjiv, a final-year student, told this correspondent.
The students said 22 of them were injured and were undergoing treatment at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences. The students launched the relay hunger strike after getting no response from the university’s vice-chancellor H.N.K. Sharma within the September 13 deadline set by them for the VC to take action.
The students accused Kulachandra of having no placement plan, misuse of the institute’s fund and taking more interest in repair works than improving the academic atmosphere and infrastructure.
“If we complained, he scolded us and threatened to make us fail,” one of the students alleged.
Education minister Moirangthem Okendro Singh said efforts were on to find a solution to the problem. The institute has three courses — computer science and engineering, electronics and communication engineering and civil engineering. Some pupils from Noida, Meghalaya and Assam, whose parents are posted here in central sector services, are among the students.
Because of the agitation, internal examination scheduled from September 19 to 21 did not take place. The next semester examination is to begin from December 3.
The campus of the institute was deserted today. Employees came, but went back as the gate of the office was padlocked. This correspondent found some employees sitting near the locked office gate at 11.30am. They could not say who locked the gate.
The principal in-charge was not present at the institute at that time and the employees present did not know his whereabouts. Two citizens’ organisations are providing food and other requirements to the students. Parents met at an undisclosed place today to discuss the situation.