Outfit insists voided distance education exams be conducted again without CCTVs

Barely a day after Bangalore University (BU) Vice-Chancellor (VC) N. Prabhu Dev alleged that outside elements were making it difficult for him to visit the Jnana Bharathi campus without police security, violence erupted again.

On Friday afternoon, a group of around 30 men, led by Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Muthalik, barged into the Central College campus office of B.R. Niranjan, Director of Correspondence Courses and Distance Education. They slapped Mr. Niranjan and vandalised the university property, breaking a telephone, a fax machine and furniture.

Muthalik arrested

Five persons from Sri Rama Sene, including Mr. Muthalik, were arrested by the Ulsoorgate police on Friday evening in connection with the attack. They were arrested from the hotel they were staying in the city, and later produced before the magistrate. “They have been remanded in judicial custody till December 30, and have been sent to Bangalore Central Jail, Parappana Agrahara,” said G. Ramesh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central).

The Sri Rama Sene was apparently representing candidates from the study centres in Raichur, Davangere, Koppal and Bangalore (Vijayanagar) where BU had declared the exams conducted there in August as null and void due to alleged malpractices. The centres were asked to install CCTVs before the re-examinations on December 14, which they did not do. The examinations did not take place that day. The attackers, in a letter to Mr. Niranjan, demanded that the exams be conducted on December 26 without CCTVs. They also went on to threaten that they would “burn the university” if their demand was not met.

According to an eyewitness who is a Ph.D. scholar, the mob was on the campus for nearly 45 minutes and the situation turned ugly when Mr. Niranjan said only the VC or Registrar could take a decision.

VC outraged

A shocked Dr. Prabhu Dev, who is in Belgaum, said: “The university is virtually under siege. When I said yesterday that reaching campus without police protection has become tough, nobody took me seriously. We have been working on exam reforms for three years now, struggling to put a transparent process in place. We have clearly instructed them to install CCTVs to avoid malpractice. This is an attempt to subvert our efforts. Who is Muthalik to tell us what to do? What's his role? He has given us a deadline to conduct the exams (December 26). We cannot yield to such elements.”

Dr. Prabhu Dev said he would meet the Governor, who is the BU Chancellor, as well as the Chief Minister and the Education Minister on Saturday “to make them aware of the presence of such elements”.

Mr. Niranjan, who was taken to Victoria Hospital and discharged later, said the doctors were worried about his left ear. He has registered a complaint of manhandling at the Ulsoor Gate Police Station. He said one of the staff members has identified the student who slapped him as belonging to the Diksuchi Study Centre, Davangere.

The charges filed against Mr. Muthalik and others are: rioting, unlawful assembly, threat to life, attempt to murder and destruction of public property, among others.