Berhampur varsity closed sine die after vandalism

Student unrest over rejection of a candidate's nomination

By Sunil Patnaik in Berhampur
  • Published 7.10.18, 1:05 AM
  • Updated 7.10.18, 1:05 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Girls vacate their hostel after authorities decided to close the university. Picture by Gopal Krishna Reddy

Authorities of Berhampur University on Saturday cancelled the student’s union elections and closed the varsity sine die until further orders following student unrest over rejection of a candidate’s nomination.

Syndicate took this decision in its emergency meeting on Saturday. Students vacated the hostels in the morning.

Violence erupted on the campus on Friday when Ajit Swain’s nomination paper for the post of secretary was rejected. About 200 students, who were Swain’s supporters, took to the streets and turned violent and they allegedly ransacked property in the post graduate council chairman’s office and picketed in front of the residence of vice chancellor Rajendra Prasad Das. Angry students smashed all the nameplates of the faculty members, window panes of the class rooms and notice boards, police said.

Professor Kali Charan Sahu of Berhampur University and a member of the election committee said: “The election committee had a discussion with the vice chancellor and the post graduate council over the situation and came to the decision that polls will be cancelled. The situation is becoming uncontrollable so it will be safer to cancel the polls.”

Some students expressed discontent over the decision to cancel the student’s election. A student said protests would gain momentum if the ‘sine die’ was not revoked.

Former president of Berhampur University student’s union and the present state secretary of Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, Bhabani Kanta Sahu, said declaring sine die and cancelling the students’ poll was unjustified and it was pre-planned.

“The university authorities took this step as we exposed many irregularities on the university campus. We will challenge the decision of the university authorities in the high court,” Sahu said.

Five platoons of police force have been deployed on Bhanja Bihar campus to avoid any untoward incident. Berhampur additional superintendent of police Shantanu Kumar Das said police was keeping a constant watch over the situation.

“The authorities cancelled the candidature of Ajit Swain, a final year student of Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, as he had a criminal case pending against him. He had also given false affidavit that he had no criminal records at the time of admission contrary to the rules of the university,” said post graduate council chairman Debi Prasanna Patnaik.

“Why was he given admission in the first place if he had criminal background? Why didn’t the authorities expel him earlier and took the step just before the elections?” asked a student.

Students turned violent after Swain’s name was deleted in the final valid list. His name along with Gagan Bihari Palo,a final year MBA student, was mentioned in the provisional list for the post of secretary, a source said.