Student hurt as police curb protests against privatisation of college in Anantapur

Students were protesting the decision of the SSBN Degree College management in Anantapur to privatise the aided college instead of handing it over to the government.
Police personnel surrounding up a student who was protesting in an Andhra college
Police personnel surrounding up a student who was protesting in an Andhra college
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Tension prevailed at the SSBN (Sri Sai Baba National) Degree College in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday, November 8, as police dispersed a large group of students protesting the withdrawal of aided status for their college. One of the students, a young girl named Jayalakshmi, suffered a head injury, while police were using force to detain student union leaders who had organised the protest. The incident has sparked outrage in the state, with many questioning the need for deploying police force at a peaceful students’ protest. While some students alleged that the student was injured by the police during lathi charge, Anantapur police denied the allegations, claiming that she was hurt during stone pelting by protesters.

The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to withdraw grant-in-aid for aided schools and colleges, giving them the choice to either give up their assets to the government or to continue operating without government support, as a private institution. Students of SSBN college were protesting along with student union leaders, expressing concern that privatisation of the college would massively increase their fees. Visuals from the protest showed police personnel dragging a few male students by the collar and behaving roughly with them. Reports suggested that police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the students and that the student was injured in the head after a police officer hit her with a lathi. According to The Hindu, the hurt student was shifted to the hospital where she received four stitches.

Anantapur district police denied carrying out a lathi-charge on the students, claiming that the student was hurt when stones were pelted at the police during the protest. “A few persons intentionally pelted stones to attack the police, when a female student was hurt. Police personnel immediately moved her to a hospital and provided first aid. The student is out of danger,” police said. Police claimed that a stampede occurred when they were trying to detain student union leaders who were allegedly preventing students from entering the college.

Police shared a video of the student with a bandage on her head, in which she is heard saying she was hurt when a stone hit her during the protest at her college.

TDP chief and Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu condemned the incident, and questioned why police force was deployed on a students’ protest. Students leaders were reportedly demanding that the management of SSBN college hand the institution over to the government instead of privatising it, as many of the students would not be able to afford higher fees.

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