Lucknow, Dec. 20: Curfew has been clamped in Pharenda town of Maharajganj district following clashes between police and students today in which at least three students were killed and over a dozen injured.
Police opened fire after attempts to disperse the mob failed, a police official claimed. “The students had earlier set fire to six coaches of a passenger train and smashed three government vehicles,” he said.
Trouble broke out when people gathered for the cremation of student leader Santosh Kumar Jaiswal, who was shot in the town yesterday. “The police insisted that the body should be cremated immediately, but the irked students demanded that the killers be arrested first,” said a source from Maharajganj over phone.
The protesters roughed up officials and forced people in a passenger train that had stopped there to alight before setting the coaches on fire.
Uttar Pradesh home secretary Deepti Vilas claimed that the police had fired in self-defence. “They used teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge. But when the mob started attacking police officials and destroying national property a few rounds were fired in the air,” he said.
“The situation is tense but under control,” additional DGP (law and order) Vikram Singh said. Additional forces, including the Rapid Action Force, have been rushed to the area and senior officials are camping there, he added.
Yesterday, students and residents of the area blocked roads for hours to protest police inaction, relenting only when the in-charge of the Campereganj police station was suspended.
Maharajganj police said the murder of Jaiswal, the president of the local Lal Baherai College students’ union, is the result of rivalry in the union. Three persons had been named in the FIR.
The Samajwadi Party has decided to send a delegation of MLAs to Pharenda tomorrow. “If the administration stops us, we will court arrest,” warned Samajwadi state general secretary Shiv Pal Singh Yadav.
The Congress said the government “has shown its anti-farmer and anti-youth character by resorting to indiscriminate firing”.
“It’s time we threw such people out,” said Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh.