Anti-terrorism campaign valedictory today, attendance must for students

Government, police guarded about the prospect of another gridlock

BANGALORE, Feb 28 : Even as the city police maintain that they have granted permission only for 25,000 members to attend the valedictory of the campaign against terrorism, more than 700 colleges affiliated to Bangalore and Tumkur Universities — with a student population estimated around 10 lakh — have received orders from the Government making it mandatory for students to attend the function here on Saturday.

With the Government being the organiser and its department – the police – being the regulator, each appears to be making guarded efforts not to invite the wrath of judiciary, which had pulled up the police for improper handling of the Janata Dal (Secular) rally which threw life out of gear in the city on November 17.

Higher Education Department as well as the universities have issued separate circulars to all colleges in Bangalore Urban and Rural, Ramanagaram, Kolar and Tumkur districts making attendance mandatory at the gathering for teachers, non-teaching staff and students.

The organisers, who admit that they expect over two lakh students to attend the function, have arranged hundreds of buses, including around 600 Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses.
Several colleges have said that they would be using their own transport facilities. Commissioner of Police Shankar M. Bidari said even if the numbers exceeded by a few thousands, the police could manage the show.
All roads leading to the Palace Grounds — Bellary Road, Jayamahal Road, C.V. Raman Avenue and adjoining roads — are bound to get choked, and the city is likely to witness another major gridlock.

Although the High Court had directed the police to set in motion rules to govern mega rallies having seen the plight of thousands of citizens, schoolchildren in particular after the Janata Dal (S) rally, the rules are yet to come into force.

Having ‘forced’ students and colleges to attend the rally, the authorities are keeping mum about arrangements at the venue.

This is causing concern among parents who are worried about their wards who will attend the event under the scorching sun on an open ground.

Although dignitaries are expected at the venue by noon, students have been directed to assemble at 10 a.m.
An official in the Collegiate Education Department said food packets, water packets and butter milk would be distributed to students at the venue.

He was not sure whether the supply would be sufficient, given soaring mercury levels and increasing humidity. Neither Higher Education Minister Aravind Limbavali, who once had been a student leader, nor the Government/ university circulars elaborate on the arrangements made.

A college principal, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu that the college had been inundated with calls from parents enquiring about security arrangements. “Security is a big concern now. Also, some of our students will be dressed in western attire and we are not sure if they will be safe at the venue tomorrow,” the principal said.

He said it was “criminal” to expect students to congregate two hours before schedule.

BMTC assured Bangaloreans that they would not be inconvenienced as spare buses would be offered for the event. Still, minor problems were anticipated for commuting towards northern parts because of the large congregation on Palace Grounds, it said in a release.

Counter-protests Several student organisations on Friday staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi statue.

They have urged students to boycott the valedictory programme.

The organisations submitted a memorandum to the Governor and planned to take out a counter-rally from the City Railway Station at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday.