Cassian Baliarsingh

Demanding resumption of student union elections in colleges and universities across Odisha, members of All Odisha Student Voice scuffled with police and attempted to gherao Naveen Niwas on Monday.

The election ban in colleges and universities across Odisha since 2018 has spread resentment among a section of students who demanded its resumption. This is the fifth consecutive year when elections will not be conducted in the state.

Irate agitators hurled eggs at the poster of Higher Education Minister Rohit Pujari as they marched towards Naveen Niwas.

However, police intercepted them. The agitators alleged that the BJD had intentionally banned elections in colleges and universities to make its own party relevant among students.

Student leaders of their party are spreading a reign of terror in the institution campuses. This has led to a spurt in entry of outsiders in colleges, ragging and other illegal activities in universities, the protestors alleged.

Worth mentioning, students’ union elections were cancelled in 2018 due to Cyclone Titli in Odisha. Again it was cancelled due to campus violence in 2019 followed by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Instead of elections, committees are now formed by students to address various issues in their colleges and universities. The students’ wings of various political parities slammed the ruling BJD and demanded immediate release of notification for the conduct of elections.

They warned of egg hurls and further agitation if their demands were not fulfilled.

“We have approached the Police Commissionerate a couple of times, but to no avail. We have also submitted our demands in writing. Resumption of Students Union Election is our only demand. If not, CM Naveen Patnaik will be hurled with eggs,” said an agitator student.