A policeman beats up a youth on the Siliguri College campus in Siliguri on Wednesday. (Kundan Yolmo)
Jan. 15: Clashes centring around students’ elections broke out in four colleges in Siliguri today, forcing police to baton-charge students on one campus on the penultimate day of filing nominations.
This morning, Trinamul Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) and Congress-backed Chhatra Parishad supporters clashed over collection of nomination forms at Siliguri College of Commerce.
According to the TMCP supporters, they were standing in front of the college gate when a huge rally of the Chhatra Parishad supporters and some Congress leaders came and started shaking the gate.
“The latch broke and all of them (the Chhatra Parishad) rushed in,” Nirnay Roy, the Darjeeling district TMCP president, said.
“They started hitting our supporters without any provocation and some got injured. As prohibitory orders were clamped in and around the college, police intervened and dispersed them,” he said.
The students’ union poll in 24 seats at the college will be held on January 27.
When the elections were last held, Chhatra Parishad had won it, but many post holders defected to the TMCP.
The Chhatra Parishad supporters alleged that the TMCP had prevented them from taking forms and when they protested, the police lathi-charged them. “The TMCP supporters had blocked the entrance and were preventing us from entering the college to collect nomination forms…. Three of our supporters got injured,” said Abhijit Roy Chowdhury, district youth Congress president of Darjeeling. The last date for filing nominations is tomorrow.
The police denied that they baton-charged the students. “Section 144 was imposed in and around the college and two groups were scuffling. We did not lathicharge, but simply chased them with batons,” Amit Singh, the additional deputy commissioner of police (East), said.
Principal Asim Mukherjee said: “There was some tension in the college but the police intervened. We were able to distribute nomination forms to all students.”
At Bagdogra College, supporters of the TMCP and the CPM-backed SFI fought over collection of nomination forms. SFI supporters blocked NH31, around 15 km from Siliguri, for an hour from 1pm alleging that they could collect only 11 nomination forms because the TMCP chased them away. The elections in this college are on January 28.
Women supporters of TMCP and the SFI also clashed at Siliguri Women’s College.
“The TMCP has few supporters in the college. So they brought outsiders and tried to force their way in. When we protested, they attacked us and four of our supporters have suffered bruises and cuts,” said Priyanka Roy, SFI unit vice-president at the college.
At Siliguri Government Polytechnic College, the Chhatra Parishad said its members were attacked by TMCP supporters and outsiders when they were on their way to collect the forms.
“Three of our supporters were injured,” said Bilu Mondal, a Chhatra Parishad supporter.
TMCP supporters alleged that Chhatra supporters from outside attacked them.