Pune: Amidst drama at Fergusson College over the purported raising of anti-national slogans, an NCP MLA was allegedly manhandled on Wednesday on its campus as a clash broke out between workers of his party and ABVP supporters.
A day after heated exchanges there between ABVP activists and students affiliated to Left organisations, NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad was allegedly manhandled on the Fergusson campus during a clash which led to the deployment of a riot squad and saw the police stepping in to control the situation.
The MLA wanted to meet Fergusson College principal R Pardeshi to discuss Tuesday's incident and reached the campus at around 4:30 pm. But, unable to meet Pardeshi, he began a speech to NCP workers and supporters on the campus.
While he was speaking, members of ABVP and BJP's youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, started raising slogans against Awhad and allegedly heckled him.
Awhad's supporters and the rival groups soon came to blows and the NCP leader was allegedly manhandled during the melee.
Police had to intervene and escorted Awhad to his car but even after the NCP leader had got inside the vehicle, footwear and stones were hurled at his car.
Police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse the crowd before Awhad and his supporters left the campus. After the clash, a riot control squad was deployed.
"Police had to use mild force to disperse the groups as Awhad was manhandled. Although a police officer took out his service revolver, no rounds were fired and Awhad was escorted out safely," said a senior police officer.
"We are yet to detain anybody in this connection. We will study CCTV footage to check what exactly happened," he said. Meanwhile, with the issue sparking a row, the principal was summoned by state Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
Pardeshi had on Tuesday dashed off a letter to police seeking action against those who had "raised anti-national slogans" on the campus during a verbal clash between two students' groups. However, on Wednesday, he retracted his statement, saying he had sought a probe to ascertain if such slogans were raised.
Although in his letter on Tuesday, Pardeshi had asked police to take "stern action" against individuals who raised anti-national slogans, in a turnaround today, he told PTI the letter had a "typographical error" and he had only meant to request police to find out whether or not anti-national slogans were raised on the campus.
"I have been summoned by the Education Minister and I am now leaving for Mumbai. I will update him about the incident," Pardeshi told reporters.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde said police would investigate the matter.
Inspector Pravin Chougule of Deccan Gymkhana Police confirmed that the principal has withdrawn his earlier letter and a revised version is being sent to the authorities.
Earlier, during his speech before he was escorted out by police, Awhad said, "The principal should be sacked as he seems to be mentally imbalanced... He wrote the letter and later withdrew it... I have come to Fergusson College not as an NCP leader but as a students' sympathiser, because I started my political as a student leader. Our fight is against fascism."
Referring to Pardeshi's letter on Tuesday, in which he had asked police to take action against those who "raised anti- national slogans", Awhad said, Pardeshi "purposely misled the police".
"He misled the police by writing a letter alleging that anti-national slogans were raised on the campus by students who had come to oppose JNU ABVP leader Alok Singh, who was having an interaction with the Fergusson students," he said, adding that a case should be registered against Pardeshi for this.
While Pardeshi said no permission was granted to the ABVP delegation for holding the meeting, 'Truth of JNU', a spokesman for the outfit said college authorities had told them that since it was supposed to be an informal interaction, there was no need for a formal nod.
Earlier in the day, various groups stormed the Fergusson campus condemning the letter and demanding stern action against ABVP members.