Four students were injured in clashes between local and non-local students at the Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT) on Tuesday,forcing institute director N B Subba Reddy to close down the college for 10 days.
Third year B Tech student Rajiv Kumar Das,who hails from Munger district in Bihar,said,Apprehending attacks from local students,over 600 non-Sikkim students huddled on the sixth floor of the college hostel. We did not know how to take on the attackers.
After three hours,Rajivs friend Rakesh Singh called up his father,who is in the Army and requested help. At 2 a.m. last night,two Army vehicles came and took Rakesh and me to the Army guest house at Rhenok,32 km from our college,he said.
The other students,mostly from Bihar,Jharkhand and UP,however had to wait anxiously for the night to pass. Saurabh Kumar,a student from Hajipur,said: Though the last night passed off without any incident,most of us did not sleep. This morning we packed our bags and boarded all kinds of vehicles to reach New Jalpaiguri,Gangtok and other places so we could board buses or trains to Bihar.
The institute hostel,that houses over 2,000 students,has over 1,400 students from outside Sikkim. Of these,over 800 students are from Bihar alone.
Saurabh said over 300 Bihar students were taking the Capital Express from New Jalpaiguri to reach Patna. Other Bihar students,putting up at their acquaintances places,would take the same train on Thursday.
Students from Bihar said the situation at the college worsened after a Bhutia student,reportedly a relative of a Sikkim minister,abused some non-Sikkim students. On Monday,during a volleyball match at college a few Sikkim students beat up four non-locals. The students alleged that the local police would side with the locals in most cases. Even the college administration asked us to resolve the problem by ourselves, a student said. Despite repeated attempts,the director of the college could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile,Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he had taken the matter up with his Sikkim counterpart. I have spoken to the Sikkim CM,who has assured the safe return of our students, he said,adding regionalism in any form must be decried.