Three days after police booked 150 unidentified people for rioting during a protest march by students over lack of facilities at a residential school, Hardoi district administration on Friday said it has asked police to quash the FIR.
Students of the residential school at a village in the district took out a march on Tuesday to the District Magistrate’s office, about 40 km away.
The students The Indian Express spoke to said they were stopped by policemen outside a police station on the way. “We were marching peacefully when policemen stopped us, took us inside the police station and lathicharged us. Around 10-15 students were injured,” said a Class XI student, showing an injury on his back.
The students wanted to meet the DM to complain about lack of facilities at their school, run by the UP social welfare department. The principal said he had complained to the department on issues like lack of drinking water at the school. “We have been complaining for two months, but to no avail. The school was not getting supplies like bags, books, etc,” said the principal of the school, which has about 270 students from classes 6 to 12.
A Class 6 student, who took part in the march, said, “Now, most of our issues have been resolved but a case has been lodged over the march. We got new supplies the same day.”
The resident pharmacist of the school said that at least 10 students were injured in the incident. “Three students have serious injuries. One may have a fracture.”
Police have booked 150 unidentified people under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 332 (Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932.
The complaint, based on which the FIR was filed, said, “Around 10.30 am, 100-150 students of the school carrying lathis and stones in their hands were marching on the national highway. The police station got a call from the DM’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) that the distance being covered by the students is long and that they should be convinced to board a vehicle… When the students were being spoken to, they started abusing us and vandalised the police station.”
The complaint was lodged by a sub-inspector.
The principal and students denied they had stones or lathis.
The SHO of the police station said he got a call from the DM’s office, asking him to arrange transportation for the students. “After the students reached the police station, we told them to board a vehicle and go to meet the DM. They thought we were stopping them and started vandalising the police station. They injured themselves by hitting heads against the walls.”
Police have denied the allegation of lathicharge. “Why would we lathicharge the students when there was no law and order situation?” said SP Alok Priyadarshi. He said some “rogue elements” were involved in the violence and police are trying to identify them.
DM Pulkit Khare said he has asked the SP to quash the FIR. “I have constituted a committee to probe the issue,” Khare said.
He said he met the students on Tuesday and has submitted a report to the government on their issues. “I have recommended that the principal be transferred. There were lapses on his part. He had Rs 1 lakh in the school’s account for maintenance, but didn’t use it.”