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Violence erupts at Manipur varsity

 IMPHAL, Aug 7 - A clash broke out between protesting students and a group of people demanding resumption of classes at the Manipur University in Imphal West district, where prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC has been in force since July 25, a senior official said.

Police had to fire tear gas shells and mock bombs to disperse the mob, he added.

“A group of people, with no possible affiliation, entered into a heated altercation with the students, who were holding silent protests at the institute yesterday under the aegis of the Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU). The altercation soon led to a clash, prompting the police to take action,” the official said.

Academic activities at the central university have been under suspension for over two months as teachers, students and staff members have been demanding the removal of Vice Chancellor AP Pandey over allegations of administrative negligence and financial irregularities.

The district administration, last week, issued a separate order preventing demonstrations in and around the university.

Despite the prohibitory orders, the agitators, after the altercation, tried to take out a rally from the main gate of the institute yesterday, the officer said.

The police officers had to fire tear gas shells and mock bombs to disperse the local people as well as the students, who turned violent after they were stopped from taking out the rally, he added.

A MUSU functionary said four students sustained injuries in the clash, a claim refuted by the police officers.

He also said that similar rallies were taken out yesterday at Senapati, Kangpok and Churachandpur districts by the students’ bodies.

“In Senapati district, which has a predominant Naga population, at least 2,000 protesters participated in a rally yesterday. At Churachandpur and Kangpok districts, too, the students took to the streets, seeking redress of their grievances,” the MUSU member added.

L Debananda, spokesperson of the Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA), said the situation at the university turned worse after the police last week dismantled a makeshift camp of the agitating bodies at the entrance to the university.

Additionally, the detention of a MUSU functionary over charges that he defaced the images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tore posters of his flagship programmes also infuriated the students, he claimed.

Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar had on Sunday appealed to the protesting students and teachers to cooperate with the HRD Ministry and the State Government in restoring normalcy at the university.

He also urged the agitators to keep faith in the administration, which has the “best interests of the students” in mind.

Pandey was sent on a month’s leave on August 2 on the advice of the Union HRD Ministry. – PTI

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