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Bandh after Kashmir aid sparks VC attack

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(Above) Television footage of
vandals in Jawaharlal Kaul’s office. (below right) File picture of Kaul

Bhopal, Sept. 16: Ujjain today saw a voluntary “bandh” by its citizens, a day after VHP and Bajrang Dal activists vandalised the office of Vikram University vice-chancellor Jawaharlal Kaul, leading to his hospitalisation.

The activists had gone to Kaul’s office last evening to protest his appeal to the people to help out Kashmiri students given the flood havoc in their home state. He had urged them not to press the students for payment of rent for a while and even spoken in favour of waiving their university fees.

There are over 100 Kashmiris studying in different departments of Vikram University, said to be over 3000 years old. Kaul was earlier a law professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Witnesses said trouble began around 4pm yesterday when the activists asked Kaul why he had not issued a similar appeal when flash floods devastated Uttarakhand last year.

When the vice-chancellor asked them to behave, the group went on a rampage, damaging an LCD TV, computer, busts of Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln and breaking window panes and other objects.

Stunned by the turn of events, Kaul’s blood pressure shot up, leading to chest pain and breathing problems. He had to be taken to the nearby Sanjeevni Hospital and admitted to the ICU. Doctors treating him today said he was stable.

For many, the incident is a chilling reminder of the death of Professor H.S. Sabharwal, after manhandling by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists at Ujjain’s Madhav College in August 2006.

However, all accused were acquitted because many witnesses, including policemen, turned hostile during the trial.

Two persons were arrested today in connection with the Vikram University ransack. But police have refused to disclose their identities or party affiliation.

A case has been registered against 25 unknown persons, Ujjain additional superintendent of police Pankaj Srivastva said. He refused to answer why five policemen, reported to have been in Kaul’s office last evening, chose to remain mute witnesses.

Ujjain police superintendent Vijay Davar said action would be taken against those who had failed to discharge their duty.

The Vikram University registrar, D.K. Bagga, and the director of the social work department, Rakesh Dhand, lodged a complaint at Madhav Nagar police station under IPC Sections 353, 147, 427, 148 and 332.

Davar said cases have also been booked under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (national flag) and Section 3/4 of the Public Property Act.

The Vikram University teachers’ association and employees today observed a “bandh”, shutting down the premises. The impact of their protest spilled over into the temple town, with many shopkeepers and establishments voluntarily downing shutters.

There was no word from the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. A government spokesperson claimed he was indisposed. The state home minister, Babulal Gaur, said he had sought a police report.

The Congress slammed the Chouhan regime “for not doing enough to rein in saffron workers”. Senior leader K.K. Mishra termed the incident “a blot on the age-old teacher-pupil relationship”.

AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh tweeted: “Madhya Pradesh police diluted the case and killers of Prof Sabharwal went scot free! Would PM ask CM MP to take strong action against these elements?”


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