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College-locality tension hits flashpoint

Kalyani, March 2: The registrar of Kalyani Government Engineering College in Nadia was arrested today on the charge of leading a group of students in vandalising the local police station.

The confrontation brought to the fore tensions between the institute and sections of the neighbourhood, complaints of intruders using the premises as a drinking den and alleged police inaction.

The police said registrar Bishnupada Biswas had led to the police station nearly 200 students, some of whom had been beaten up by three outsiders they had caught drinking on the college campus last night. A student leader said one of the three was a Calcutta police constable.

The students had gone to the police station to lodge a complaint of inaction against a sub-inspector investigating their allegation of intrusion.

At the station, some policemen allegedly beat up the students, triggering a rampage in which telephone connections were snapped, furniture broken and glass tops of tables, window panes and windscreens of vehicles parked outside smashed. Three policemen and an IT student were injured.

Registrar Biswas, a resident of Kalyani town and nephew of local Trinamul MLA Ramendra Nath Biswas, was detained and then arrested. He has been sent to a day’s jail custody.

Ramendra Nath Biswas, the Kalyani MLA who visited the police station this morning, said: “I have told the police to prove the charges against my nephew. But I have also made it clear that there will be no interference.”

The sub-divisional police officer of Kalyani, Chandrasekhar Bardhan, said: “We have started a case against the registrar and nine students.”

A police officer said the registrar had been charged under IPC Sections 146 (unlawful assembly and rioting), 307 (attempt to murder), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duties), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duties), 425 (causing mischief and damaging government property).

“We have not been able to arrest any of the students named in the FIR,” SDPO Bardhan said.

The police are also investigating the complaint lodged by the students, accusing three youths of assault. “They have identified two of the youths,” an officer said. The youths are said to be from Anukul More, Chandamari.

The general secretary of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad-controlled students’ union of the college, Rajdeep Biswas, said that around 9 last night, two second-year MTech students were returning to the hostel when they found the three youths consuming liquor on the campus. “The students asked the outsiders to leave but they beat them up. The students ran away and told their hostel mates. They identified two of them, one a Calcutta police constable,” Rajdeep said.

Soon, around 200 students from the four hostels gathered and urged the registrar to call the police. The police arrived after two hours.

“We waited for the sub-inspector as he went to conduct a raid. We called him repeatedly to learn about the progress of the investigation but after some time, he stopped taking calls. Around midnight, we went to the police station along with the registrar and lodged the complaint. But it appeared that the police were not keen to arrest them as one was a policeman,” said a fourth-year student.

The student said that after lodging the complaint, they waited till 2am. “Then we decided to lodge a complaint against the sub-inspector. When the registrar and four of us went inside the police station, the duty officer and other personnel abused us. They slapped and baton-charged us when we protested. This aggravated the situation and the students ransacked the police station,” the student said.

A police officer said the entire incident occurred in the presence of the registrar.

Another student said: “Registrar Sir tried to pacify the students, but they were out of control”

The inspector-in-charge of Kalyani police station, Tushar Kumar Kar, denied the allegation of baton-charge. “A sub-inspector had raided the locality but the accused persons could not be found. Many of the students were drunk and demanded that the parents of the accused be arrested and handed over to them. We refused to satisfy such an unlawful demand,” he said.

Registrar Biswas said before his arrest: “It is because of the police that the situation spun out of control. No student was drunk. First, the police could not arrest the accused and second, they lathicharged the students. I did not lead any violence. I was with the students and had tried to control them, but failed.”

Principal Krishnendu Chakraborty alleged that outsiders “often” entered the college campus and “indulged in antisocial activities”.

“The police took no action despite repeated complaints. Local people have made holes in some portions of the boundary wall. Nevertheless, I do not support the students ransacking the police station. The registrar also should not have led them to the police station at such a late hour.”

A teacher of the engineering college said the institute had one entrance, in the front. However, for easy access to the campus and to take short cuts, local people had broken a portion of the wall on the western side, where the four hostels are located.

“The breach was repaired several times, but local people broke it again. We had informed the police but nothing was done,” he said.

Kar, the inspector-in-charge of Kalyani police station, said the police had told the college authorities to ask a guard to man the area where the wall was broken.

The teacher said four guards manned the campus at night and it was not possible to post one of them in front of the broken portion of the wall.