The National, Friday 14th June 2013
PRIMARY school students and police clashed yesterday in Wabag town, Enga, leaving a number of students hospitalised and the town police station damaged.
Two primary school students were in stable conditions and recovering at the Wabag General Hospital, provincial administrator Dr Samson Amean said last night.
The town came to a standstill for about an hour before order was
restored by a visiting PNG Defence Force unit with the able support of community leaders and Amean.
Students from Wabag Primary School, boasting an intake of about 1,000 from Grades 3 to 8, marched to the Wabag police station, which is also the provincial police headquarters, following the assault of a student by a policeman.
Only a handful of policemen and their officers were around and could do little to contain the situation, Amean told The National from Wabag.
He added that the situation had quietened and he was not expecting any more trouble.
“Two students were rushed to the hospital after they were hit by a police vehicle,” Amean said.
“Fortunately, gunshots were fired into the air only to disperse the crowd, which also included members of the public.”
He said this was when the public and students retaliated and stoned the police station and other buildings, destroying walls, glasses and whatever was in their path.
“Fortunately, two PNGDF vehicles were nearby and heard of the commotion and rushed towards the police station to help me quell the situation.
“They were looking for fuel to refill while on their way to Porgera,” he said.
Amean said it all started from a classroom incident where a boy had allegedly assaulted a fellow female student.
“The girl went home and returned with her dad (who was a police officer) and mother, both of whom went about beating up the male student.
“Other students saw what was happening and tried to intervene, but were warned off by the policeman.”
Amean denied reports that headmaster Mark Sakol and another teacher were assaulted by the policeman leading to the students’ rampage.
Following the incident, the school children have petitioned the provincial administration, calling for:
- The policeman in full uniform to be charged and suspended to face court trial for assault;
- The policeman who drove the vehicle that hit and injured the two students, who have been hospitalised, to be investigated and charged; and
- To establish why policemen had opted to fire gunshots into the air in front of children.
Amean and the police hierarchy in the province met with the school administration yesterday afternoon where it was announced that detectives had already begun an investigation.
Before the suspension of classes yesterday, the headmaster and his teachers also announced that they would meet with parents of guardians of students today to discuss the situation.
Meanwhile, eyewitness Nickson Pakea told The National from Wabag yesterday that it could have got out of hand if the PNGDF did not step in.
Luckily, the cell blocks holding prisoners were not touched.
A staff member at the Wabag General Hospital confirmed that a number of students have received treatment while two of them are in a very critical condition.
The staff denied that a student was killed as the hospital did not take in a dead body but only those with serious injuries.