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September 10, 2009

Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) sets up team to inquire into students clash incident

GANGTOK, Sept 10: The Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) has set up a high-level enquiry team to identify and punish the guilty students following Tuesday’s clash between two groups of students of Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT).

“We will use evidence available to see who is guilty. We consider our students as our own children and want to treat them as such,” SMU vice-chancellor Brig S Pabla said in a press meet indicating a lenient approach. He informed that a high-level inquiry team had been constituted to probe into yesterdays incident in an unbiased manner.

Earlier, the two groups of students had clashed with each other at the SMIT campus located at Majitar, East Sikkim, which disintegrated into large scale rioting by the students. Police had resorted to lathicharge twice and shell five rounds of tear gas to quell the mob.

The situation forced the SMU authorities to suspend classes till further notice and ordered all the students to vacate the hostels. All the students left the campus by yesterday afternoon.

The SMU vice-chancellor said strategies like Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) and counselling would be put in place soon in the campus to avoid such situations in future. “We will talk with officials of Sikkim Police to formulate strategies like SOPs to avoid such situations in future and to stop before it happens,” he said. He further said that a proper security cell handled by a retired army or police officer could be considered as a safety measure.

While downplaying the clash as minor issue that was brought under control immediately, Brig Pabla admitted the entire episode could have been avoided if strong measures had been immediately taken after the volleyball incident. “We missed the opportunity to stop the incident,” he said.

Regarding the cases lodged against some SMIT students at Rangpo police station, the vice-chancellor said that the SMU is of the view that any student should not be dragged into criminal records considering their future.

Meanwhile, the incident also prompted a visit from Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma to Sikkim to find out the ground realities with reports of Asomiya students being injured in the clash. He reached Rangpo late in the evening and spoke to the State and SMU authorities. “I will assure all the guardians in Asom that everything is fine here,” said Dr Sharma. (UNI)

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