On the evening of November 23, a second year B.Tech Mechanical Engineering student, of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) allegedly harassed a woman student from the KIIT School of Law. Post this incident of harassment, the law student along with a couple of her batchmates protested in front of the B.Tech hostel and demanded an apology. By the end of the day, the accused apologised.
It was assumed that the apology would settle the matter but it acted as a trigger for further violence. The apology apparently provoked students from the engineering department to enter into the law school and create further issues.
In line with this, on November 24, hundreds of engineering students barged into the law school with sticks, stones, beer bottles and even knives with the purpose of damaging the school property and causing severe harm to students. The violence went on for more than an hour and the engineering students even entered the hostels and beat up students inhumanly.
They allegedly also broke the main entrance gate of the hostel, other hostel infrastructure and even vehicles were damaged. Many of the windows of the hostel rooms were found broken.
As per some students’ posts and videos circulating on social media, the engineering students were found beating up law students with iron rods and wooden logs. Students were also beaten up in the lift.
Despite all the chaos and violence, the authorities were not seen taking any action and even the police was called over an hour after the violence broke out. Some videos suggest that a lot of the violence occurred in front of the police, while the students just locked the gates of the hostel.
Reports suggest that more than 40 students (both law and B.Tech) are currently hospitalised and one law student is admitted in the Intensive Care Unit with a serious injury to the head.
As the details of the clashes spread, the incident turned into full fledged riot and panic spread tremendously among students. As per the report by Odisha Bytes, during the violence, vehicular traffic between Big Bazaar Square and Sikharchandi was disrupted. Even the locals reached a situation of panic and tension.
Many of the alumni from Kalinga School of Law received threats about facing consequences for brawling with the engineering students. Despite this, the alumnus has extended full support to the current law students at the institute.
Ambuj Dixit, an alumnus of KSOL, took to Facebook to show his support to the students. As per the Facebook post, the local Bhubaneswar students were arranging and willing to give any sort of help to the students.
There was even a rumour spread, stating that an engineering student named Saptarshi Mukherjee, had passed away due to severe head injuries. Eventually found to be false, it is assumed that the engineering students initiated the rumour mongering as an act of retaliation. The student himself put up a story on Facebook, which said, “Stop spreading the rumour that I died.”
Later on, the engineering students clarified that the name of the student was wrong, where in fact they were referring to Saptarshi Biswas, who is the same person and they went on to put WhatsApp statuses as clarification.
They also started an online petition, demanding justice for the student Saptarshi, who allegedly died due to the violence and for all other students who were attacked by the law students.
A law school alumnus has informed us that, this was probably an act to save themselves from charges of vandalism and rustication.
The students continue to be in a state of fear and turmoil. I spoke to a student at KIIT School of Law. He informed us that, while a curfew has been set on campus, all students were asked to vacate their hostel at 3:00 a.m. on November 25. Many students were left stranded, waiting at airports, hotels and railway stations.
During the course of the violence, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was imposed on the university. The State Reserved Protection Force had been deployed and there were reports that the university had shut sine die.
Earlier in the day Sucheta Priyabadini, the Director Student Counselling at KIIT University, took to Facebook to post about the happenings and administrative action taken by the university.
On the official college website a notice has been put up, which states, “Students belonging to two groups clashed last evening over an issue of eve-teasing on November 23. As a precautionary measure, two hostels affected have been vacated by the University authorities.
As it is a matter of clash between two groups of students, the University has not been closed Sine Die and the classes of various schools are functioning normally. A few students received minor injuries in the clash. They have been discharged after the first-aid. Rumours of fatality are false.
KIIT has a policy of zero tolerance towards such unruly actions and necessary steps have been taken from the authorities’ side.”