College constituted by Ambedkar turns into battlefield

The image of an institution initiated by the architect of India’s constitution took a hit yesterday, when chaos took over outside Siddharth College of Commerce and Economics at Anand Bhavan, Fort. A mob of about 400 protesters — allegedly led by Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) and grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar — started hurling stones and soda bottles at the building, college authorities said. Police present at the scene prevented the angry demonstrators from entering the college campus. Around 25 policemen and 11 protesters suffered minor injuries. Cops arrested 35 men and 15 women, who were part of the mob.

Extra cover: Police presence outside Siddharth College at Fort, after yesterday’s protest. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

Power struggle
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr Krishna Patil, principal of the college, alleged, “Prakash Ambedkar took the help of MS Moray and Dr SP Gaikwad, who in the past were part of the governing body of the education society and were removed in the year 2010 and 2011 respectively when it was proven that they had siphoned off a lot of money from the college.”

“This is not the first time that our college has witnessed such a scene; it has happened over a dozen times. These people try to use physical intimidation to become a part of the governing body. They were planning to hold an illegal meeting in my office,” the principal added.

The education society of Siddharth College has decided to organise a peaceful agitation against the protest by shutting down its seven different colleges in Mumbai today. They have demanded that the chairman of the college be provided with police protection and if their pleas are not met in 2-3 days, they plan to protest in front of Mantralaya along with around 50,000 students from their colleges.

The society was earlier run by Dr Ambedkar’s son, who died in 1977. The BBM has maintained that one of the members of the Ambedkar family has to be a part of the society, a rule that was ‘not being followed’. The injured protesters were taken to St George’s Hospital and treated for minor wounds like cuts and abrasions. Two demonstrators suffered fractures, while a police constable, Ananth Rajaram Lad (38), had his left arm broken.

All out
“50 protesters, who were arrested, were later released on bail of Rs 5,000 each. They were booked at Azad Maidan police station for rioting”, said Shashikant Satav, ACP, Azad Maidan division. “Limited use of physical force was allowed to curb the angry mob outside Siddharth College. Those arrested are now out on bail. The injured policemen got treated at the hospital and are doing all right now,” said an official from Azad Maidan police station on condition of anonymity. 

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