Free education is much discussed issue these days. In fact it is so aggressively thrashed out , that, its meaning; many different meanings, depending on which side of the argument you are in, has been lost in the process. For some people, mostly young leftists and Marxists from universities, it’s a life and death issue. Every once in a while , like a ritual ,they come to the capitol, in thousands, wearing black bands, carrying placards with slogans like ‘don’t destroy free education’ to protest.
They want to go see education minister or even president and discuss this issue, not few representatives but whole procession, police position barricades across a main road, students attempt to break it , resulting in a contest between policemen and students , they push the steel barricades from either sides as if to see which side has stronger muscles.
It is wrecking havoc on city traffic because the protests are timed in such a way that it will come to busiest main traffic artery exactly when the outgoing traffic start leaving the heart of the city. This is exactly what the orchestrators of these protests want; maximum disruption. And for students horde, with a judicial sprinkle of Buddhist monks, this is most romantic part of the day’s proceedings; The tug o war at the barricades.
Because barricades are a quasi- essential part of student protests, starting from revolutionary class struggles and mother of all revolutions, the French revolution, as dramatized by Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. So trying to pull it down by students and attempting to keep the status quo by the police continues for something like half an hour. As in everything else including the second law of thermodynamics , disruptive attempts gain upper hand, over the endeavor to maintain order. When police feels that students have tipped the balance and barricades are losing their intended effect the water cannons and masked tear gas shooters are brought into play.
Police fire water cannon on to the crowd, but students brave the high pressured water columns because the climax is near. Monks advance to the front to show to the cameras and in turn the TV news addicted public that police does not respect even monks, because here police is synonymous with the government.
During the watery part of the script, as the student body does not disperse, tear gas canisters are fired into the crowd. After few minutes students disperse and go back to their hostels and homes; in the case of day scholars.
• Few policemen and students receive minor injuries
• TV stations have juicy video clips for evening news , prominence for coverage depends on the political leaning of the station
• Evening commuters caught in the traffic jam reach home many hours late , angry and exhausted.
• Free education remains same because adding nongovernmental universities will no way dilute the existing free education; in fact it will supplement free education by taking out a fair percentage of students who can afford private universities, making available more berths to deserving students
• The perpetrators of the protests expecting a serious incident like a police shooting of Dambarawe Rathanasara on 8th January 1968 near US embassy , hoping that they can galvanize public for large scale anti government rallies are disappointed and wait for next opportunity.