The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Students tread warpath Polls, hostel fuel flare-up

On a night when the city was rocking to the Valentine's Day beat, violence rocked the campuses of two educational institutions ' Shibpur's Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) and SSKM Medical College and Hospital 'forcing the authorities to suspend all academic activities on Wednesday.

At least six students of BESU were injured in Tuesday night's clash, one of them seriously, and admitted to a private nursing home. The campus was shut down indefinitely and students were asked to vacate the hostels as soon as possible. But the annual convocation, scheduled for Thursday and to be attended by Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, would not be disrupted.

Trouble allegedly erupted over the impending students' union elections and the annual cultural functions, between Bengal Engineering College Students' Union members and SFI activists. A large police force arrived around 1 am and restored order. A picket was posted through Wednesday and reinforcements were called in later in the evening.

'We have started an inquiry to find out what led to the clashes,' said vice-chancellor N.R. Banerjea.

The latest round of campus trouble comes close on the heels of similar clashes in July and September last year and at a time when a proposal of upgrading the institution to IIT status is under consideration.

At SSKM Medical College and Hospital, another institute under the spotlight, possession of hostel rooms sparked off trouble. Eight first-year students belonging to the Democratic Students' Organisation (DSO) were stopped by a group of SFI students from entering the new boys' hostel.

'When we tried to enter the building, the SFI members locked the gate and threatened us with dire consequences if we tried to take possession of the rooms allotted to us,' claimed a DSO supporter. An SFI member, however, blamed the DSO students for turning up with an intention of causing trouble.

Clashes broke out, leaving at least five students injured, till police from Bhowanipore thana stepped in.

'For now, the eight students have been asked to remain in the old hostel,' said Prabir Sur, director, Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research.

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