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Last Updated: Aug 19th, 2006 - 22:18:38

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Indian Police Tear Gas Peaceful Protest by Medical Students
Apr 27, 2006, 03:22, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"We had to resort to tear gas and water cannons as students were blocking traffic in Janpath and the road connecting Jantar Mantar to Connaught Place," said a police official.

Protests by medical students against the government's reservation policy in higher educational institutions Wednesday saw the police lob tear gas shells and water cannons and students complain of "slaps and manhandling".

"We had to resort to tear gas and water cannons as students were blocking traffic in Janpath and the road connecting Jantar Mantar to Connaught Place," said a police official.

Earlier Wednesday, students of the capital's five medical colleges headed for Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh's home to protest against the government move to reserve quotas for students of backward classes.

On April 5, Arjun Singh had declared that the government was planning to reserve 27 percent of seats in 20 central universities, the Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institutes of Technology and other central government funded institutions for other backward classes (OBCs).

If the government implements its plan, the reservations in these institutions will go up to 49.5 percent. Currently there is a 22.5 percent reservation in all government institutions for the Schedule Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST).

Protestors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), the Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College, the Lady Harding Medical College and the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) alleged that the police slapped them and manhandled female junior doctors.

"We were protesting peacefully, but the police manhandled us. They slapped us and some of our colleagues even got minor injuries," said UCMS student Anirudh Lochan, holding a 'Youth For Equality' banner.

"While we were marching towards the minister's (Arjun Singh's) house on Akbar Road, policemen kicked, slapped and baton-charged us. They forced us into their vehicles and dropped us near Jantar Mantar," Lochan told IANS.

Sweta Sardana of the Lady Harding Medical College said: "The decision of the government is creating polarisation among the student community and we want the decision to the taken back."

"No one, including the OBC students, want reservation. All that the government should do is to provide quality education at the school level rather than promote reservation in higher education," she added.

However, additional deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Manish Agarwal said: "We have not arrested or detained anyone."

Police and paramilitary forces were present in heavy numbers on Akbar Road, Janpath and Jantar Mantar.

Earlier, students of the Delhi University, the Amity College and the Indraprastha University had staged protests near Jantar Mantar and Rajghat on April 9 and 19.

- Indo-Asian News Service

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