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Protests continue at NIT, J&K govt orders time-bound probe

Protests continue at NIT, J&K govt orders time-bound probe
Protests by outstation students continued at NIT-Srinagar for the third consecutive day, even as the J&K government ordered a time-bound probe into the clashes that took place on campus last Friday and Tuesday, regarding which two FIRs were also filed.

Some outstation students staged a protest march on campus, demanding shifting of the institute from Kashmir and action against policemen who lathicharged them on Tuesday. The protesters, who included girls, were chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, officials said.

As tension prevailed, state police chief K Rajendra Kumar visited the campus to take stock of the situation.

The students have also accused some faculty members of harassment and have demanded their resignation so that “they do not play with any student’s career”. 

However, faculty members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were shocked at the allegations levelled against them. “The allegations are shocking. Just check the records and you will see outstation students have been doing better in exams. If anything, we have been generous with them,” a faculty member said.

He, however, said the faculty would not compromise on the standards of this prestigious institute. “We cannot pass even those who are mediocre in studies. The minimum standards have to be upheld,” he said.

The HRD Ministry, which rushed a three-member team of officials here on Wednesday, said students would have an option to appear for the exams later. The exams are beginning on April 11 and will be held as scheduled, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said the Additional District Magistrate of Srinagar would conduct the inquiry and submit his report within 15 days. “We have instituted an inquiry into the incidents at the NIT,” he said, adding that, “We will resolve this issue at the earliest.” 

Asked about his controversial comment that students were subjected to ‘mild lathicharge’, Singh said his statement at that time was based on the information that he had received.

He said the state government would ensure the personal as well as academic security of all students at the NIT.

The police have registered two separate FIRs in incidents of violence that took place on NIT-Srinagar campus last Friday and Tuesday. The first FIR was registered against unknown persons for the clashes that broke out between outstation and local students on April 1, a day after India lost to West Indies in the semi-final of the World T20 Cup. 

The police have invoked Sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 427 (mischief), 336 (endangering life of others) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for the clashes between local and outstation students, a police official said.

In the second FIR registered on April 5, the police, besides slapping the charges of the previous FIR, have added Sections 353 (assault on public servant) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

While no one has been named in the FIRs as of now, the official said the police are investigating the video evidence of the violence that took place on the days of incidents.

The police have also released video clippings, showing non-local students attacking police personnel with stones and damaging property at the campus.

The video, shot on Tuesday when trouble restarted on campus, shows a large number of outstation students protesting against the NIT administration and marching towards the main gate of the campus. The students, some of them masked, are seen carrying iron rods and stones. They pelted stones at the police and many buildings on campus, breaking many window panes. They are also seen vandalising the property on campus, after which the security forces resorted to baton charge to disperse the protesting students.

Meanwhile, a group of non-local girl students on Thursday said their fight was against the administration and the issue should not be given a political or religious colour. 
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