CHASED BY THE CONFLICT: KASHMIRI STUDENTS IN TROUBLE EVEN IN OTHER STATES

  • JAVAID MALIK
  • Publish Date: Oct 22 2018 2:59AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 22 2018 2:59AM
CHASED BY THE CONFLICT: KASHMIRI STUDENTS IN TROUBLE EVEN IN OTHER STATESRepresentational Pic

Kashmiri students studying in other states have been in the news for the past few days. Punjab police arrested three Kashmiri students from the hostel of an engineering college in Jalandhar for their alleged links with militants, while Uttar Pradesh police slapped sedition charges against two Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University for allegedly trying to offer funeral prayers in absentia for Manan Wani, a PhD scholar of the university-turned-militant, killed by army in Kupwara.  

On October 10, three Kashmiri students - Zahid Gulzar of Rajpora and two others in his room at that time, Muhammad Idriss Shah and Yusuf Rafiq Bhatt, both residents of Pulwama - were arrested in a raid conducted at the hostels of CT Institute of Engineering, Management and Technology in Jalandhar. Police claimed that it recovered weapons, including an AK-47 rifle, and explosives from Gulzar’s room. Soon after arresting these students Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora claimed that the arrested youth were linked to militant outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH).

However, six days after their arrest, on October 16, Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh said that Punjab Police had, so far, not established any link between the Pakistan spy agency (ISI) and the students. “We have got thousands of children from Kashmir who are studying in colleges in Punjab. Every child from Kashmir is not an extremist,” he said.

According to the media reports after the arrest of three students in Jalandhar, Punjab Police have started profiling Kashmiri students in the state. The Police have circulated a form asking for various details of students from outside Punjab. They are also seeking Aadhaar details, leading to fears among many Kashmiri students that the police are “singling them out.” 

The form, according to the media reports, seeks basic information like name, age, date of birth and permanent address. At the end, cops have drawn out a special column with a pen to seek Aadhaar details. The details are being sought in a form titled ‘Other State Students Database’.

Punjab Police tightening noose around Kashmiri students has created fear psychosis among them and many have already left for home. Police have asked the educational institutions to provide a list of Kashmiri students. Officials have also asked for attendance of Kashmiri students from CT Institute of Engineering Management and Technology from where the three Kashmiri students were arrested,” media reports said.

Chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Ghulam Ahmed Mir took a serious note of the “harassment” of students from J&K in Punjab. He wrote a letter to another Congress man, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh emphasizing that J&K students must be provided safe and peaceful atmosphere.

He asked the Punjab Chief Minister to ensure that “harassment” should not lead to “reverse exodus” of the students. Mir also sought action against those found involved in intimidating innocent students from J&K. But it seems that Mir’s letter has not made much of a difference as many students have packed their bags and others are contemplating to follow the suit. 

Just a few days after the arrest of three Kashmiri students in Jalandhar, Uttar Pradesh Police slapped sedition charges against two Kashmiri students of Aligarh Muslim University and an unknown person for allegedly vitiating the atmosphere in the campus.

Soon after the killing of scholar turned militant Manan Wani in an encounter with the forces in north Kashmir’s Handwara area on October 11, students at Aligarh Muslim University tried to offer funeral prayers in absentia for their former colleague Manan Wani, who was enrolled as a PhD scholar with the AMU before he joined militant ranks in January this year. However, their attempt to offer the funeral prayers in absentia did not materialize. The incident snowballed into a major controversy. UP Police swung into action and booked Wasim Ayub Malik and Abdul Haseeb Mir, who are pursuing PhD from the Biochemistry and History departments of the varsity.

Police said that videos showed a prayer meeting (Namaz-e-Janazah) being held by Malik, Mir and others on the AMU campus for Manan Wani.

A top police official said that in one of the videos, some people in the prayer meeting were seen raising anti-national slogans, including those seeking ‘azadi’, following which they were charged under section 124A (sedition) of the IPC along with other charges that include rioting and promoting enmity.

The university also initiated disciplinary action against nine students, including those from J&K, for organising the prayer meeting on the campus for Wani. The AMU authorities also suspended three Kashmiri students.

The hasty action of the UP Police and AMU authorities triggered outrage in Kashmir and as many as 1200 Kashmiri students at AMU threatened to abandon their studies and leave the varsity en masse. 

Mainstream politicians and separatists cut across their ideologies and slammed the AMU authorities and the UP government for launching a “vilification” campaign against the Kashmiri students and targeting them. 

Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq while taking a dig at the people at the helm asked, “Is offering funeral prayers a crime in India now?”

Former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and other leaders cut across the party lines and slammed the UP government for going all-out against the Kashmiri students. 

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik reacted quickly and tried to douse the flames by getting in touch with the Union Minister of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Prakash Javedkar and the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. 

The enquiry committee formed by the varsity exonerated Waseem Ayub Malik and Abdul Haseeb Mir, saying “No credible evidence” of their participation in any “unlawful assembly” in the varsity campus was found, AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai said.

Governor Malik’s intervention seems to have defused the tension as the AMU authorities have revoked the suspension of two Kashmiri scholars and UP Police have also said that they don’t intend to jail any student.   

According to AMU officials, Governor Malik is playing a key role in resolving the ongoing crisis at the AMU. He is reported to be in close touch with the Uttar Pradesh government and the AMU authorities.

Former vice-president of AMU students’ union Sajjad Subhan Rather, who hails from Kashmir led a silent protest at the venue of the All India AMU Alumni Meet. He demanded justice for the Kashmiri students. “We have come to the AMU to build our careers. Please do not snatch away the pens from our hands,” he said.

General Secretary of BJP’s J&K unit Ashok Kaul while talking to the Kashmir Ink said, “Kashmiri students should concentrate on their studies. They need to stay away from elements who are out to exploit them.”

He said, “Kashmiri students should stay away from indulging in such activities which can vitiate the atmosphere in the colleges and their campuses. A few elements are putting a question mark on the integrity of all the Kashmiri students studying in different parts of the country.”

An analyst said that it’s unfortunate that the Kashmiri boys who have gone to other states to pursue their careers are facing the “heat of the conflict” even far away from their own land. “People at the helm should understand that if these youth are not allowed to pursue their studies and live in peace it could push them to the wall and this could have far reaching consequences,” he added.