Students of the University of Madras protested outside the vice-chancellor’s office on Thursday, shouting slogans against the visit of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the campus, scheduled for Friday evening.
More than 5,000 police personnel including those from the Armed Reserve have been deployed on the university campus.
The BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate will deliver the 2013 Nani Palkhivala Memorial lecture – ‘India and the World’ at the university’s centenary auditorium. He will also release BJP leader Arun Shourie’s book ‘Self-deception: India’s China policies.’
The protestors said the university should not have agreed to host a private event involving a controversial politician like Mr. Modi.
“It was only a few months ago that they cancelled Islamic scholar Amina Wadud’s lecture citing security reasons. How can they invite a man who has been accused of polarising communities to an academic institution as a guest?” said Ram Kumar, a protesting student.
Also, the security arrangements, students said, had become heavy since Tuesday, causing much inconvenience to them.
All those who did not possess university identity cards were detained at the gate for security reasons on Wednesday and Thursday, they said.
“Research scholars and first-year students are yet to get their ID cards. Many professors don’t carry their IDs all the time. All of them were detained,” said one of the protesters.
Three gates of the university are barricaded and there is checking everywhere across the campus. Police have also erected barricades on all roads leading to the auditorium. “Is such security hype necessary,” asked another student.
University officials, however, said Mr. Modi was coming for an event organised by a private institution and they had only rented out the auditorium. “The security arrangements are being handled by the security agencies directly. We cannot do anything about it,” said an official.
City under scanner
The university apart, a security blanket has been thrown over the city since late on Thursday and special teams attached to various security agencies have been positioned at vantage points to keep tabs on suspicious elements.
Thousands of police personnel, including a large number of in plainclothes, have been deployed in vulnerable areas.
Director-General of Police K. Ramanujam, Chennai police commissioner S. George and senior officials in the State intelligence reviewed the security arrangements on Thursday.
Police also made random checks at lodges and mansions around the city. Night patrolling and vehicle checks have been intensified, a source said.