Police, college heads identify 28 persons, mostly second-rung political leaders

The police and heads of institutions in Chennai have identified at least 28 ‘ring leaders,’ mostly second and third-rung political party leaders and college dropouts, as the people who instigate students to indulge in violence.

The action is a follow-up to the violent clash inside an MTC bus on Thursday, when three students were attacked, and a passenger was injured in the melee.

The authorities, who have since started a crackdown, said 18 ring leaders are very active in the most sensitive bus routes — 29A, 27H, 6D, 2A, 59E, 57F and 12G — that pass through government colleges where most of the violent incidents recur.

The leaders also forcibly take away the free government bus passes to ensure the members of the gang always flock together.

“These leaders control at least 40 of our first-year students. It is now up to the police to take these miscreants to task,” says M. Mohamed Ibrahim, principal, Presidency College. Many of these ring leaders are employed at Chennai Port or engaged in odd jobs at Park town and Poonamallee.

Three former students of Presidency and Pachiyappa’s College, who are pursuing post-graduation at Law College, also operate as ring leaders on bus routes 159 and 24A, according to college heads.

Freshers are easy targets

College principals have identified over 35 students in each of their colleges as ‘trouble makers,’ using data given by the city police.

At least 90 per cent of these students are in the first year. Principals say these students are paid a weekly allowance of Rs. 50 or less for being a part of gang activities.

“A Presidency student accused of being involved in violence has a bedridden father and an ailing mother. He says he needs the money his leader provides to run his family,” says Prof. Ibrahim says. College heads say first-year students are forced by their leaders to come to a particular bus stop every day.

“There is no use arresting the scapegoats and letting the notorious walk free. That is why such incidents recur,” says P. Gajivaradhan, principal of Pachaiyappa’s College. “It is unfortunate colleges have to take action against these students who are just out of school,” he says.

In the 38 instances of bus violence since July, police officers and heads of colleges have named 137 students from Presidency College, Pachiayappa’s College, Ambedkar Law College and Government Arts College, Nandanam. Of these, 105 are first-year students, and 21 have been involved in more than one act of violence.

The ring leaders bail out the arrested students. The students remain loyal to them even after being suspended.

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