PU costly mess meals: On day four, protest turns violent

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The ongoing protest by Panjab University students against the hike in price of hostel meals, which entered day four on Thursday, turned violent with the students throwing stones at the Vice-Chancellor's office and the police being forced to intervene. Even as the V-C agreed to their demands, the students did not call off their dharna.

Hundreds of students gathered in protest around the V-C's office and shouted slogans. They threw stones at the office and tried to break into the compound. Several of them managed to get inside when the police swung into action and pushed them back. In the scuffle that continued for over 15 minutes, the police charged lathis indiscriminately and some of the students, including girls, fell and injured themselves.

As the situation got out of control, the students were rounded off and made to board a police bus. The protesters blocked all exit points of the V-C office compound not to let the police bus leave. In the drama that ensued, the students used abusive language against the authorities, and efforts to have a peaceful dialogue between the authorities and protesters failed.

Towards the evening when the crowd settled, Vice-Chancellor Arun Gover came out and tried to pacify the protesters by calling their demands 'not unreasonable'. "A letter is being sent to the Advisor to the Administrator, K K Sharma, to seek his help in obtaining LPG cylinders for hostels at subsidised rates," he said.

He said a copy of the letter would also be sent to those Union Ministers with PU connection to request them to initiate a suitable measure at the Central government level.

The V-C said to regulate prices, food kiosks would be set up, near or inside the hostels to provide a fixed menu at Rs 24 per meal. "From October 22, when the meal prices were hiked, up to the time kiosks for fixed meal start functioning, the enhanced meal charges shall be borne by the university," he added.

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