By: Vikas Sharma
Violent clashes between activists of SFI and ABVP on Himachal Pradesh University campus has once again brought to the fore the ugly face of student politics here.
Tension prevailed in the campus on June 19 when SFI and ABVP supporters got involved in a bloody quarrel, which resulted in about a dozen students from both outfits getting injured. According to eyewitnesses, the trouble started outside the cafeteria over ragging of a student and later the action shifted to the VC’s office where students clashed with sharp-edged weapons. Though timely intervention by police averted any major tragedy, students managed to vend their anger on public property by hurling stones at parked vehicles. Students even damaged windowpanes of certain departments.
Rahul, who is preparing for civil services exams and comes to the library daily, said he had been in the university for more than three years and had seen the same atmosphere there. “It looks so depressing to see students waste their time by getting involved in violence,” he said. Others like Rahul were of the view that politics was the main culprit.
Police registered an FIR against 10 students in the incident; however, all of them were bailed out later. Who came to their rescue? Probably, politics.
Last year on April 25, activists of Student Federation of India (SFI) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) clashed over setting up of student guidance bureau on the campus. The clash led to students setting seven rooms in Dr YS Parmar hostel on fire, due to which 18 students lost all their belongings including their educational certificates.
The violence also left more than 20 students injured. Next day ABVP activists took out a protest rally and later sat on a dharna outside the VC office demanding arrest of SFI activists. The VC’s office was pelted with stones, which led to police action and serious injuries to a couple of students. The police had then registered cases against 16 students for rioting, damage to public property and criminal trespassing.
In yet another incident, a liquor shop was ransacked by students angry with police inaction against another group recently. I fact, there had been several incidents when the police itself has been the centre of controversy with students alleging that the police had been favouring students supporting the party in power. With the state elections nearing, this year’s campus elections are expected to be even more full of tension as the stakes would be high for all parties.
There is almost a consensus that student elections are a futile exercise, but no political party wants to take the risk of changing the trend. But, as private universities are about to set campuses in the state, students will at least get an option. A better one, let’s hope.