‘Police forcibly took away the fasting students’
The following piece is an eyewitness account of the midnight action of Tamil Nadu police, who forcibly entered a private property at Koyambedu in Chennai, and took away eight students of Loyola College who were on an indefinite fast in support of Eelam.
There were about 120 of us at the venue, where eight Loyola College students had been fasting since last three days in support of their 9-point charter of demands that includes demand for an international inquiry into the war crimes of Sri Lanka and a UN referendum on Eelam.
Eight students from Loyola College in Chennai are on an indefinite fast in support of Eelam
Most protesters were students from Loyola. I am a former student of Loyola from the 2008 batch and I had gone to express my solidarity with the fasting students.
Few students from other colleges were also present at the venue. We were sitting in small groups and discussing on taking the struggle forward.
At about 2 am, there was some commotion near the main gate. Students started running towards the gate. We found some policemen were trying to forcibly enter the premises. Soon, about 70 policemen entered the venue and resorted to a mild lathicharge against those standing near the gate.
When the policemen moved towards the fasting students, the other protesters formed a protective ring around them. But police managed to break the cordon and forcibly took them away.
Students from a city college expressing their solidarity with Loyola students
We started shouting slogans against the police, condemning their highhandedness. After removing the fasting students, the rest of us were put in two police vans and taken to a nearby community hall of the Chennai Corporation.
A couple of representatives from Loyola management tried to reason with the police, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
In the morning, members of the media came to the place where we were being held. Some students spoke to the media from near the gate. But policemen on duty threatened us not to create any trouble.
We tried to find out from the policemen about the condition of the eight fasting students. They assured us their condition was stable. They said that they were being administered drips at the Royapettah General Hospital.
They refused to divulge more details. Until this moment we are not aware when the police would release our comrades.
At 9 am we were released.
Students plan to take the struggle forward by forming a joint coordination committee. It will be purely a student movement with no political affiliation.