Nearly 2,000 students from across the country have been sent back home after clashes between “local students” and those from other States forced the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology at Mazitar in Sikkim to shut down indefinitely.
“A skirmish between two students after a volleyball match on September 6 escalated into a major clash between two student groups on the campus,” Deputy Inspector-General (Range) Sridhar Rao told The Hindu over telephone from Gangtok. The police had to resort to tear-gas and lathi-charge to disperse them, he added.
The situation deteriorated to such an extent that one group put up roadblocks to prevent students from leaving the campus even after the decision to shut it down had been taken, said Mr. Rao.
Nearly 350 students from West Bengal were unable to get back home on Tuesday night, said West Bengal’s Minister for Youth Service Kanti Ganguly.
“I had to get in touch with the Home Secretary (Ardhendu Sen) and Inspector-General of North Bengal (K. L. Tamta) to ensure that they were escorted back safely,” Mr. Ganguly added.
The institute, located near Rangpo on the border between West Bengal and Sikkim and affiliated to Sikkim Manipal University, attracts students from across the country. Twenty per cent seats are reserved for government quota which is available for Sikkimese students only.
“Minor scuffles between local students and those from other States do take place sometimes, but this time the situation went out of hand,” said the Director of the institute, Dr. N.V.S. Reddy.
As the disagreement between the two groups grew violent, the management of the institute asked the police to intervene on September 7, Mr. Rao said, adding that the police were able to bring the situation under control and adequate police personnel were stationed at the campus through the night.
However, the next morning students went on the rampage again, even attacking policemen, at which point the police resorted to lathi-charge and tear-gas. Later in the evening, at a meeting between student representatives and the management, mediated by the police, it was decided to shut down the campus, Mr. Rao said.