Students for Society (SFS) president Damanpreet Singh was last seen in Panjab University on April 11 —it has been seven days since he and 15 other students named in the FIR for the recent violence on campus – have gone absconding. As the search for the 16 students continues, their lawyers are expected to file anticipatory bail pleas Wednesday.
Damanpreet is a postgraduate student of English in the university and has been one of the prominent faces of every campaign or protest that SFS has undertaken in the university. But, today he is number two in the complaint filed by university authorities on the unprecedented campus violence that left 40 persons injured. He was last seen in a Facebook Live video but since then there has been no information on his whereabouts.
“How can he be on the campus when there is a witch-hunt going on against the students? There is an apprehension that Daman and other students also will be tortured by the police. He is in hiding for his safety,” said a research scholar in the university and a student leader associated with SFS.
The 24-year-old student from Rajpura, district Patiala has been the president of SFS for past two years. Amritpal Singh, a research scholar of History and a prominent SFS face says, “Daman’s style of speaking has always been persuasive enough to motivate students. It is because of these reasons that he and other SFS leaders are being targeted.”
Last month, Damanpreet was detained after he refused to concur with the university administration’s ‘objection’ to activist Seema Azad’s presence in the campus. On April 11, Damanpreet allegedly asked students to protest in “whatever way they liked”, which many say was a hint on the violence that followed. “His statement should be heard in the context it was said and not co-related with what happened that day. He did not ask anyone to pelt stones,” an SFS leader claimed.
But Damanpreet is not the only student who has avoided public appearance since Tuesday’s violence in the campus. Ramanpreet Singh, a law student – who is part of SFS’s peoples’ Artist Forum – has also evaded arrest. “These people have a through understanding of issues inside university and outside. Can this quality be found in criminals? The situation has been brought to this that because of FIR they have to go into hiding,” said a research scholar of Public Administration.
The 16 students who have been evading arrest study in different departments like English, Law, Education and others. At least, one accused according to the university complaint has been a former student of the university. SFS leaders have alleged that the names provided to police mostly belong to their student outfit.
As the whereabouts of the students have remained unknown, lawyers of the District Bar Association on Monday said they would apply for anticipatory bail for the students who are fearful to return to the campus.
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