Five undergrads and cop injured as police halt undergrads’ march


by Dasun Edirisinghe

A crackdown on a protest by a group of medical students yesterday in Fort left two undergrads and a policeman hospitalised.

Protest march organised by the Medical Faculty Students’ Action Committee (MFSAC) which commenced from the Colombo Medical Faculty was scheduled to end at the Presidential Secretariat after handing over a petition against the Malabe Private Medical College (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine – SAITM).

Police used tear gas and water canon at Lotus roundabout to disperse the students.

Vehicular traffic came to a standstill in Colombo Fort and surrounding areas due to the protest march attended by undergraduates from all universities.

Convener of the MFSAC Rayan Jayalath said their protest march had started from Colombo Medical Faculty at Punchi Borella and proceeded peacefully via Maradana and the Technical Junction, but police had attacked it in Fort.

Sathyagrahas were being performed currently opposite Colombo, Sri Jayewardenepura, Ragama, Ruhuna, Rajarata and Peradeniya medical faculties against SAITM which continued with its private MBBS programme, Jayalath said.

Jayalath said all Sathyagrahas had reached 100th day, but the government had not heeded the protesters’ request for an appointment to discuss the issue.

"According to our information, the SAITM is preparing to grant MBBS degree next month without its students undergoing a proper clinical training," Jayalath said.

Director of the National Hospital Dr. Anil Jasinghe said five undergraduates and a policeman had been brought to his hospital with minor injuries.

Two undergraduates and the policeman had been warded, but their condition was not serious, Dr. Jasinghe said.

Police Media Spokesman’s office said the police had been compelled to fire tear gas and use water canon to disperse students who tried to breakthrough the police barriers.

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