Police fire rubber bullets, lob teargas shells after students hurl stones at them

Students agitated over the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee clashed with police forces on the Osmania University campus throughout Thursday. Police fired 15 rounds of rubber bullets as the situation appeared to slip out of control even after sealing of the campus, lobbing of hundreds of teargas shells, and repeated lathicharges proved futile.

At least a dozen police personnel, including Additional DCP Srinivas, sustained bleeding injuries in heavy stoning and scores of students were injured, escalating tension on the sprawling campus and environs. Three injured students and Mr. Srinivas were shifted to different hospitals. Their condition is stated to be improving. Students set fire to four city buses, two on the campus, one each at Habsiguda and Rasoolpura and damaged windshields and windowpanes of about eight buses of private engineering colleges.

Police authorities heaved a sigh of relief as trouble was confined only to the OU campus, though there were instances of impromptu road blockades organised at Paradise crossroads, Vanasthalipuram, Kothapet crossroads in the city, Vikarabad, Dharur, Doma and Manchal in Ranga Reddy district.

Tension began to build up by 11 a.m. on the campus as television news channels began beaming contents of the Srikrishna report. Students gathered in front of the Arts College and took out a rally towards NCC gate on the western end of the campus, where the police were present in large numbers.

Prolonged clashes commenced around 11.15 a.m. as students began hurling stones. After showing restraint for over 10 minutes, police lobbed teargas shells and used lathis to disperse students, who ran away, only to regroup and rush towards the police station at the eastern end of the campus.

From then on, incidents of stone-throwing and use of teargas were reported every half-an-hour. Students entrenched themselves in the ‘B' Hostel building on the other side of the police station and rained stones on policemen. A compound wall under construction at the police station was dismantled and bricks used to attack policemen. As the students engaged the police in pitched battles, a group of agitators jumped over the compound wall at Aradhana theatre and disrupted vehicular traffic. They broke window panes of engineering college buses and forced the occupants to join them in the road blockade.

The police strategy of issuing ‘advisories' to the media, particularly the TV news channels, that they should not write or telecast anything that could trigger trouble elsewhere, seemed to pay off. Not a single news channel telecast live the protracted clashes between police and students on the OU campus.

Police decided to maintain strict vigil on student movements in the night as they anticipated surprise attacks.