The Odisha government on Thursday dispatched a high-level team to Tripura to assess allegations of torture and harassment by a team of Odiya students and teachers, against local students in Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan University. The University focuses on education in Sanskrit.
About 90 students from Odisha are presently enrolled in its Agartala campus in various degree programmes, such as Bachelor in Education (B.Ed). In videos released on social media late Wednesday night, Odiya students in the university wept and pleaded for help. “There is great injustice here and we are totally unsafe”, said a female student featured in the video. “We are B.Ed students and have come to this Central Government affiliated university after passing an entrance examination. But local students harass and thrash us”.
“They thrashed both male and female students”, alleged another student in the video, weeping with folded hands. “We may be killed any moment”, said a male student. “We don’t need the B.Ed (degrees) or jobs. We only want security”.
Students have appealed to the Odisha government to take them back to their homes. Secretary of Odisha’s Higher Education Department, Bishnupada Sethi, said, “A two-member team, comprising Vice Chancellor of Shri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya Radha Madhab Dash and Director Higher Education IAS B Parmeswaran, will be visiting Agartala to sort out the matter.”
On the 26th,the moment I got to know about some #Odiya students at Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan being harassed at #Agartala, I spoke with DGP #Tripura Subsequently the SP visited & has assured security & help. Closely monitoring the situation & in regular touch with the DGP there.
— DGP, Odisha (@DGPOdisha) September 27, 2018
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Thursday tweeted: “Students from Odisha are Tripura’s children too. No anti-social activities shall be allowed on the land of Ma Tripursundari. I assure full protection for students from across India in #Tripura. Spoke to @dpradhanbjp ji today. Assured him of full safety for #Odisha students.”
Tripura Police issued a statement saying they have visited the Odiya students and provided a picket. Tripura Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla said concerned officials were asked to look into the issue. Superintendent of Police of West Tripura district Ajit Pratap Singh said tight security and 24×7 surveillance was provided around Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan since yesterday. “We spoke with the students and they said they are afraid of something. We are still not sure what they are afraid of. But we have ensured proper security”, the official said.
Singh also said he spoke with Principal of the institution and the latter assured him that no incident of clash took place inside it.
According to sources in the university, the dispute started days after Teachers Day celebrations on campus. The local students had asked the Odiya students to pay Rs 50 per head to contribute for celebrations. Later, an argument broke out after some Odiya students asked how the money was spent.
The Odiya students say some of their classmates from Tripura also threatened to file cases of rape and sexual harassment against teachers from Odisha, who tried to resolve the dispute.
Prof R.K. Barman, Principal of the Agartala campus, said the confrontation between Odiya and local students did not lead to any violence. “The local students said that the three faculty members from Odisha were insulting them by making false allegations and calling them thieves. They demanded that the Odiya teachers be sent back. On the other hand, the Odiya students said that local students were badmouthing the Odiya teachers so that they are transferred”, Barman told The Indian Express.
Barman said that the three Odiya teachers have left Agartala for Odisha on Thursday morning, as per a directive from the institution’s head office. The institution has been declared closed on Thursday and Friday.
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