An environment of unease and fear prevails in the sprawling campus of Ambedkar Institute of Higher Education in Maner, a satellite town in Bihar’s Patna Metropolitan Region.
Dozens of policemen standing guard at different points on the institute campus is totally a new sight for hundreds of learners who come from far-flung villagers around Patna city.
Earlier this week, unidentified gunmen molested female students at least two times in broad daylight. They made girls get off their school bus, tore the clothes of some of them, and when they protested – the miscreants beat them up. But they didn’t stop.
On Wednesday, they entered the college campus, molested girl students again, and then vandalised college property.
As the matter attracted the attention of the media and local politicians, Maner Police registered a case and launched an investigation, but it didn’t deter the goons and they again attacked some girl students.
Now, the local police have deployed dozens of cops on and around the campus. They stand guard at the entry and exit points, on the ground, outside classes, and even accompany buses ferrying students to their homes.
The fear is so much so that a majority of students have stopped attending classes as a temporary measure. “Around 80 per cent of students enrolled in the college have chosen not to attend classes since these incidents,” said a college employee.
Simultaneously, police teams are conducting raids in Maner and adjacent areas for leads and arrests of perpetrators.
Speaking to The New Indian, Garima, who witnessed her friends being molested in front of her, said: “We were going in the bus when some people stopped it and came inside. They started touching female students. Everyone got scared and some girls started crying.”
Despite security concerns, some students like Garima remain adamant. “Our families have told us not to go to college but how can we leave our studies?”
But the fear remains.
“Running the college in this situation is next to impossible. Not everyone is under protection. Students are scared and have stopped coming to the college to protect themselves,” said Kaushal Kishore Giri, the institute’s managing director.
Giri said that he received death threats over the police case. “These goons have been constantly threatening us to take back the case. However, the police are providing protection and helping us. But we don’t see any concrete result.”
“We will have to shut down the college if such incidents continue,” he said.