The sedition charges against 66 Panjab University students have been dropped from the First Information Report filed in connection with the violent demonstrations on campus on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported. The charges were dropped by the Chandigarh Police when they produced the 53 arrested students in court on Wednesday.
As many as 13 students told the court that they were tortured by the police. Judicial Magistrate First Class Jagmeet Singh has asked a team of doctors to examine the students to ascertain the authenticity of their allegation. The panel will submit the report to the court on April 24 – the next date of hearing. The students have been sent to judicial custody.
The investigating officers told the court that 22 police personnel were injured during clashes with protesting students. However, he dropped the sedition charges while submitting the documents in the court.
The police is believed to have slapped sedition charges against the students on the basis of a complaint lodged by the chief security officer of Panjab University. However, Professor Ashwani Kaul, on Wednesday said the police had “misinterpreted” his complaint. “The protesters were raising slogans such as ‘PU murdabad, ‘MHRD murdabad’ and ‘UGC murdabad’,” he said. “Police misinterpreted and slapped sedition charges on them.” He said he had clarified the case with the Chandigarh Police after examining CCTV camera footage and videos of the agitation.
The demonstration against the fee hike at the university had turned violent on Tuesday afternoon after students had tried to enter Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover’s office to discuss the problem. The police had used batons and teargas shells to control the crowd outside the VC’s office and also brought in water cannons, according to NDTV. At least 40 people, including 22 police personnel, were injured.
The students have been demanding a rollback of the hike in tuition fee announced by the varsity senate last month for the academic year 2017-2018. For those studying BPharma, the fee has been raised from Rs 5,080 to Rs 50,000, while that for the masters in journalism course has been increased from Rs 5,290 to Rs 30,000. Those studying dentistry will now have to shell out Rs 1.50 lakh, a steep jump from Rs 86,400.
Varsity officials said they have hiked the fee by around 12.5% to tide over a financial crunch.