Gujarat: 7 students injured in police action over ‘garba’ event

Surat: Seven students were injured in a clash with police over a ‘garba’ dance event organised on a university campus in Gujarat’s Surat city during the ongoing Navratri festival, officials said on Tuesday.

Surat police commissioner ordered an inquiry into the incident that took place in the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University around 9 pm on Monday, when students resisted a police team’s attempt to stop the event, organised allegedly in violation of the government’s guidelines for such events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they said.

Later, some students were detained and taken to local police station where a group of students allegedly clashed with the security personnel.

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Seven students were injured in the clash and later hospitalised, officials said.

Garba is a popular folk dance of Gujarat and is performed during the Navratri festival, which this year started from October 7.

The Gujarat government on September 24 allowed the organisation of ‘sheri garba’ (traditional garba) in housing societies and on streets with a limit of 400 participants and strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), including the condition that every participant should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, commercial organisation of garba events has not been allowed this year.

According to Zone III Deputy Commissioner of Police (in-charge) K F Baloliya, a large number of students gathered on the university campus on Monday night to attend the garba.

“A team of personnel from Umra police station went there to check after learning that the event was organised in violation of the state government’s guidelines. When the police personnel went there, they faced resistance from students,” he said.

The police detained four students, who had organised the event, and took them to Umra police station.

A group of students followed them and gathered outside the police station where they shouted slogans against the police, the official said.

“As per the students, seven of them were injured. It is their claim that they were injured in baton-charge by police, but we will be able to say anything only after receiving the medical report,” he said.

Surat Police Commissioner Ajay Tomar said he has asked the DCP to conduct an inquiry and submit a report within three days.

“From what I have learnt, the university’s vice chancellor permitted garba event on the campus even as the government had decided not to permit any form of garba, other than the ‘sheri garba’. A lot of people gathered there. When police learnt about this, they went to check and faced resistance from students,” Tomar said.

A woman member of the RSS-backed Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) claimed that three police vans entered the university campus, and several security personnel got down and started abusing the students over the garba event organised there.

The police detained some students and took them to the police station, she told reporters.

“When the ABVP members accompanied them to the police station, the police hit students with batons, leaving seven of them injured. The policemen also abused a few female students,” she alleged.

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