Probe ordered into violent clash between Chennai law students

November 13th, 2008 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Nov 13 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government Thursday suspended nine policemen and the principal of the government law college here for failing to control a violent clash between students, and announced a probe into the incident by a retired Madras High Court judge.Law Minister Durai Murugan told the assembly that P. Shanmugham, a retired judge of the Madras High Court would investigate Wednesday’s clash between two student groups.

The students had allegedly fought over the contents of an invitation for a political event. They attacked each other with sticks and iron rods.

Eyewitnesses said police officials remained mute spectators and failed to control the violence in which three students were injured.

Murugan added that J. Jayamani, the principal of the law college, had been suspended.

The college and its hostel would remain closed till further notice, he said.

Two writ petitions filed in the Madras High Court by different public litigants seeking action will be heard by the First Bench comprising Chief Justice A.K. Ganguly and Judge Ibrahim Khalifullah.

Joint Commissioner of Police Abhay Kumar Singh announced the suspension of nine policemen, including Assistant Commissioner Narayan Murthy, and the transfer of six others.

He said seven students had been detained and more arrests would follow.

Meanwhile, three students injured in the clash were in serious condition in government hospitals. One of them was on life support, hospital sources said.

On Thursday, students of law colleges across the state held demonstrations and pelted stones on educational institutions to protest alleged police inaction Wednesday.

Various examinations were postponed for three days, officials said.

A Dalit group also set fire to a government bus on the outskirts of Chennai to protest Wednesday’s incident, according to the police.

Opposition parties slammed the police for being “mute spectators as students set upon each other murderously”.

While opposition leader J. Jayalalitha expressed shock at the inaction, Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary D. Pandian termed the violence “barbaric” and the “unwillingness on the part of the police - a sad despicable state of affairs”.

Opposition AIADMK legislators were expelled en masse from the house by speaker Auvudaiyappan when they repeatedly shouted slogans against the government’s “failure to tackle lawlessness in the state”. MDMK legislators staged a walkout in support.

Many opposition leaders demanded the resignation of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who is in charge of the home portfolio.

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan, who supports the government, was also critical of the government’s handling of the matter.

“Breakdown of law and order in the face of a stunned police force manacled by political interference has become a regular feature during DMK rule,” political commentator Cho S. Ramaswamy said.

“According to convention, the police department cannot enter the court premises which also house the law college without the permission of its principal. Though the inaction is by itself blameworthy, the law also necessitated it. Having known the ugly situation, the principal ought to have called us in much earlier,” a police official said.

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