They were taken to marriage halls, released at around 8 p.m.
The eight-day-long protest by a section of students and faculty members of Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) pressing for various demands took an ugly turn on Wednesday with the police shifting the protestors, including 90 women, to two marriage halls in Vadapalanji and detaining them till around 8 p.m.
Though Registrar (in-charge) A. Muthumanickam had ordered indefinite suspension of classes and closure of hostels on Tuesday, a section of students and faculty members staged a sit-in protest on the campus on Wednesday. A large police force was deployed, and efforts by Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) N. Arumuga Nainar to end the protest did not fructify.
The RDO told the students that the university officials had agreed to revoke Syndicate’s approval to punitive action against three research scholars. However, the protestors insisted on fulfilment of their other demands such as immediate disbursement of UGC scholarships and revocation of action taken against two faculty members and a non-teaching staff.
G. Sathyakrishnan, vice-president of All India Students Association, said the university staff disconnected electricity and water supply to the hostels on Tuesday night and forced the inmates of women’s hostel to vacate the premises by 5 a.m. on Wednesday. “We are sitting here without having food and taking bath,” he said.
Later, in the day when the students tried to cook food on the campus, the university officials lodged a police complaint. At around 2.30 p.m., the police shifted the students to nearby marriage halls. “The policemen toppled the vessels in which we had cooked, snatched our public address system and chased the women protestors though our protest was peaceful. We were provided with lunch only at 4.30 p.m. We didn’t even have enough water to drink,” he charged.
A senior police officer said, “We arrested the students only at around 2.30 p.m. Though the food was cooked within 45 minutes thereafter, the delay was due to the time taken for packaging it,” he said.
Asked why the university lodged a complaint against the students, Vice-Chancellor Kalyani Mathivanan said: “They had no business to stay on the campus and behave in an unruly manner after the classes had been suspended and hostels closed.”