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Students hurt in cop action

- Manipur University suspends classes, closes hostels

Imphal, Aug. 6: A crackdown by police on students protesting at Manipur University today against the closure of hostels and classes left three students injured, including two girls.

The protests started after registrar N. Lokendra Singh issued two orders yesterday — suspending all classes, including practical examinations for post-graduate courses from today and shutting down the hostels.

The second order asked more than 1,000 boys and girls staying in the hostels, including from other Northeast states, to vacate their rooms by 4pm today.

However, no reason was mentioned for vacating the hostels in the order.

Vice-chancellor H. Nandakumar Sharma said the orders were issued after students started violence on the campus, a claim rejected by the boarders.

Sources said the students are not happy after the university announced its decision to implement the amended Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, which faculty members claimed was not applicable to Manipur University.

After receiving the orders last evening, the boarders went on the rampage damaging university property and setting benches on fire.

The boarders today blocked the main entrance of the university, shutting out officials and teachers from 10.30am, demanding a clarification from the vice-chancellor for the closure of the hostels.

Police personnel reopened the entrance after using tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse the agitating students. A girl student sustained injuries on her face in the melee.

The boarders again gathered at the administrative block where the vice-chancellor and other senior officials were holding a meeting to review the situation.

“We demand immediate revocation of the order to close the hostels and classes as there is no situation on the campus to warrant such moves,” Thokchom Suresh, convener of the Manipur University Students’ Union Revival Demand Committee, said.

Some students set on fire the dean of students’ welfare office damaging some furniture. The office is not very far from the vice-chancellor’s office.

The students were provoked further when Nadakumar Sharma came out of his office and said the hostel was closed owing to the vitiated academic atmosphere.

The angry boarders damaged windows and flowerpots in the vice-chancellor’s office forcing the police to fire rubber bullets and lob tear gas shells to disperse the students. A student, who was hit by a rubber bullet on the head, was admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences here.

Another girl student collapsed during the police crackdown and she was treated at the university’s health centre.

Manipur University Teachers’ Association condemned the police action on students and Sharma’s resignation for his “administrative failure.”

This is the first time that the police have used tear gas shells and rubber bullets on students on the university campus.

The police claimed they had the permission of the university authority for the action.

Majority of the faculty members said the hasty decision to implement the amended act, which is applicable only to central universities located in tribal areas referred to in Sixth Schedule, was the root cause of the trouble.

“The authorities did not discuss the matter in a higher body like the academic council or the executive council,” a faculty member said.

In a related development, all students left their hostels this evening after the university authority “forced” them to vacate the rooms and they are taking shelter at a community hall near the university gate.

The students said their agitation had nothing to do with the issue of admission reservation but was against the closure of the hostels without any reason.