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Truce rejected, more violence witnessed in Gangtok

DICHEN ONGMU
Gangtok :  Representatives of college students toady met HRDD minister RB Subba and other ministers including SB Subedi, DT Lepcha, Somnath Poudyal and Ugen T Gyatso, among others over the July 14 demonstrations and the subsequent police lathicharge incident. The meeting lasted for several hours and concluded on a positive note. The students agreed to resolve the dispute but set a number of conditions. As a consequence, SP Manoj Tiwari was suspended, the HR department agreed to bear the medical charges of the students who got injured and also initiate a thorough inquiry into the incident. Tiwari has been replaced by SAP Commandant Tashi Wangyal as the new SP (East). However, when the students’ representatives informed their peers about what had transpired at the meeting, the latter rejected the government’s concessions and accused the representatives of being bribed by officials. “Our demand was the resignation of the SP, not mere suspension; we are not happy with the decision made by our representatives and will continue with our protest,” said a student. 

Things turned tenser when the public also accused the students’ representatives of playing to the tune of the government. Some people manhandled the representatives and started pelting stones at Tadong College. They even started targeting media persons and a photographer of the IPR department was badly beaten up by a group of women and his video-camera broken into pieces. Other media persons were warned against taking pictures. When the mob got violent and started pelting stones, the police were forced to fire tear gas shells to control the situation. Army personnel also appeared fully armed as some of their vehicles were caught up in the melee. Around 12 vehicles, both private and government ones, were vandalised in various areas of the capital, while a number of Sikkim police personnel were injured. Government property including signboards and hoardings along the national highway were damaged and the entire of MG Marg was closed for the day.
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