A day after videos went viral of a Kashmiri student being assaulted amid demonstrations in Greater Noida’s Sharda University, the District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar invoked the National Security Act (NSA) against a man who has allegedly fanned communal tensions within the university by circulating inflammatory videos targeting minorities, following a scuffle between Afghan and Indian students on Monday. Police also registered an FIR against 300-350 unknown students for rioting.
Following the scuffle, a man, Deepak Sharma, visited the university on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, and has since allegedly circulated several videos of him making communally inflammatory speeches, and declaring that Afghan students “are trying to turn the university into a mini-Taliban”.
Three Afghan students were suspended by Wednesday over the scuffle, but on Thursday, a large number of people demonstrated at the university and several students claimed that the protesters were chanting slogans such as ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and ‘Hindustan zindabad’. It was during this protest that Ahtisham Bilal, a first-year student from Kashmir, was allegedly beaten up by a group.
“I met a group of Afghan and Kashmiri students on Friday morning and will take steps to ensure their security and a healthy educational environment for them. I have seen the videos and ordered that an FIR be lodged against Deepak Sharma. I will invoke NSA if he applies for bail…,” said District Magistrate B N Singh.
Late Thursday night, police took suo motu cognizance of the issue and registered an FIR against 300-350 unknown students for rioting and breach of peace. The FIR states that the protesting students wielded lathis and injured several students and some police personnel. On the DM’s orders, FIRs have been registered against Sharma and one Ved Nagar, a gau rakshak, for promoting enmity and insulting a group’s religion.
Apart from Bilal, other Kashmiri students were also injured. “A man, whose face was covered with a scarf asked me if I’m Afghan or Indian. When I said I am Kashmiri, he hit me on my shoulder. Another Kashmiri woman has said that she was touched inappropriately and that her hijab was pulled,” alleged a Kashmiri woman student.
“A high power committee is investigating these disturbances. We have also increased security and no outsiders will be allowed to enter,” said a university spokesperson.