A large number of students from various colleges in the city marched from Ambedkar (Jyothi) Circle to State Bank Circle on Friday to protest against the “continued attack on college girls in the district”.

The protest call was given by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) after Akshata Pujari (18), a student of Government First Grade College in Car Street, was found dead by the Nethravati on Thursday.

Ms. Pujari and Madan Bhandary, her friend from the same college, were missing since September 21. Mr. Bhandary is yet to be traced.

Nivedita Shetty, a first year LLB student, expressed fears that Ms. Pujari may have been assaulted and abandoned on the banks of Nethravati. She could be among the many victims of assaults in the district. Ms. Shetty regretted that the recent capital punishment on the perpetrators of attack on women in Delhi had not deterred such cases here. “We need to fight for the victims. I plead before you all to be serious in this issue,” she told other students.

Ashwini, a student from the Government College in Car Street, said, “The death of Akshata is a mystery. If she has been assaulted, police should catch the perpetrator and ensure that culprits are punished.”

Damini, another college student, said assaulters of women should get exemplary punishment that makes them repent about their act.

The large gathering disrupted movement of traffic for nearly one hour at the busy State Bank Circle. Vehicles from Bunder were diverted towards Neeleshwalya Road and Pandeshwar.

Around 3 p.m., Campus Front of India activists carried out a protest at the State Bank Circle. National Students Union of India activists submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash.

Search for Madan

Police are searching for Madan Bhandary, a resident of Manjeshwar, Police said Mr. Bhandary was the last person to be seen with Ms. Pujari in Sultan Battery on September 21.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) D. Dharmaiah said efforts were being made to trace him. Mr. Dharmaiah said no physical injury has been found on the body of Ms. Pujari. Police are waiting for the autopsy report, which would be made available on Saturday, he said.

More In: Mangaluru