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Sword fright on campus
- College mentors pitch for police cover during admission season

Two teachers of a Jamshedpur college were attacked on campus by an unidentified sword-wielding youth, believed to be a disgruntled admission tout, on Friday morning.

The incident, which mirrors the volatile law and order situation in a city that takes pride in being elite compared to its lesser cousins across Jharkhand, has sent shock waves through the academic community in the state with mentors seeking police presence on every campus.

Terror struck Jamshedpur Co-operative College — one of the oldest and largest constituents of Kolhan University with 7,000 students and 77 faculty members on its rolls — around 11.30am. BEd teachers Manoj Kumar and Shubra Sarkar were sitting near the faculty of education gate, barely 100 metres from the principal’s chamber, on the Bistupur campus when two men on a bike approached them.

“Suddenly, the pillion-rider flashed a sword and started abusing us. Before we could wink, he came charging at us. The other person tried to stop him, but in vain,” a visibly shaken Sarkar recalled, adding that they moved in the nick of time and the blade landed on the chairs they were sitting in. “We scurried towards the staff room and locked ourselves in.”

The screams of the teachers sparked chaos, with students rushing out of their classrooms to see what happened. In the melee, the bikers made good their escape.

Though neither of the two victim teachers could identify their attacker — who seemed to be in his early thirties — by name, they claimed to have seen him frequenting the campus during admission season.

Head of department Florence Beck said she suspected the ongoing BEd admission process might have triggered the unprecedented campus aggression.

“Three lists of selected candidates have already been published after approval from Kolhan University. The final list will be up soon. The attack may have been an act of desperation. The offender, a possible tout, may have failed to get his candidate(s) admitted to the college,” Beck added.

All the six faculty members of the education department later signed a joint complaint and submitted it to college principal R.K. Das. “A formal complaint is being lodged at Bistupur police station. We will also demand security personnel near the faculty of education during working hours (10am to 4pm),” Beck said.

Principal Das admitted presence of “rowdy elements in the guise of student union members” in the college. “I have written to the district administration for more security guards and requested a police picket on campus. In the wake of today’s incident, we have lodged a police complaint,” Das said.

Bistupur OC A.N. Yadav confirmed that an FIR was filed in the evening. “We have temporarily stepped up security on the college campus. The culprit is yet to be identified,” he said.

Expressing his worries over the incident, U.C. Mehta, principal of Ranchi College that also offers the BEd course, called for heightened campus vigil. “We have to work under a lot of pressure during admission time. There is a lot of lobbying from various quarters. There are guards, but their number will be no match in case of a mob attack. Security beef-up on campuses has become imperative,” he said.

Head of department of Odia at Jamshedpur Women’s College Manoj Kumar Mohapatra too pitched for police deployment during admission season. “Student unions interfere with the process and things sometimes spiral out of control. I won’t be surprised if there is a rerun of the incident at our college. We feel threatened.”

Jamshedpur Co-operative College, sprawling over 35 acres donated by Tata Steel, was established in 1960. It came under Kolhan University’s jurisdiction in 2010.

Should police pickets be set up on college campuses?