Three Kashmiri youths, studying at an Agra engineering college under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme for J&K students, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly sharing anti-India messages after Pakistan’s win over India at a T20 World Cup match on Sunday.
The administration of Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College, which rusticated the three students on Monday, announced that the college would be shut down until action is taken against those who forcibly entered the college on Tuesday demanding the arrest of the Kashmiri students.
Agra Circle Officer (Lohamandi) Saurabh Singh said the three students, identified as Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai, were arrested around 5 pm on Wednesday. “They will be presented in front of a magistrate tomorrow,” said the officer.
The three were booked under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public), and 66-F of the Information Technology Act for allegedly sending WhatsApp messages “against the country” after Sunday’s match. The case was lodged at Jagdishpura police station on Tuesday after protests were held by Hindu outfits outside the college demanding their arrest.
While Yusuf and Sheikh are third-year students of civil engineering, Ganai is a fourth-year student from the same department.
The college’s chief proctor, Dr Ashish Shukla, said the three are among 11 students studying under the PM Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS). “Of the 11, seven were present on campus on Sunday, while four were not here. After the incident, we had to shut down the college so the remaining Kashmiri students have also left the campus,” said Dr Shukla.
“We have already informed the AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) about the incident and the subsequent action. We took action on time. Our only issue is, how can some people just enter the college and create a ruckus,” said Shukla.
On Wednesday evening, the administration announced that the college would be shut until action is taken against those who entered the college forcibly on Tuesday. “Yesterday, the college was functioning like it does when around 3.45 pm, several outside elements entered the college premises illegally and disrupted the studies. They also tried to forcefully enter the hostel, which is wrong and unacceptable. They did not have any conversation with the director of the college regarding this. When they could not enter the hostels, they raised slogans in the premises and also blocked the road outside,” reads the statement issued by the college.
The statement said that even after police personnel arrived at the spot, the outsiders continued their protest till late in the night. “They also used objectionable language against the three students and also the college administration. They also said the college is a shelter for youths with separatist ideology, and made an attempt to ruin the college’s image,” reads the statement, saying that until the trouble makers face action, “the institutes of the RBS family will remain shut.” The RBS Group has seven educational institutes across UP.
On Wednesday, the J&K Students’ Association wrote to UP CM Yogi Adityanath, urging that the case against the three students be dropped since it “will ruin their future and further alienate them”.
Under the PMSSS scheme, 5,000 scholarships are offered every year to students of J&K to pursue undergraduate studies in areas such as engineering, medical, nursing, pharmacy, hotel management, agriculture, architecture and commerce in a list of select institutes. Apart from tuition fees, the scholarship also gives students Rs 1 lakh for living expenses. During the pandemic, when colleges were shut, this amount was brought down to Rs 40,000. The largest number of applications is usually received from Kashmir, followed by Jammu and Ladakh.