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Yavatmal attack: 4 arrested; 19 Kashmiri students go back home

The four have since been removed from Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai/nagpur |
Updated: February 23, 2019 9:19:50 am
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“It is our misfortune that we can neither study in our own state nor anywhere outside in peace,” said a 19-year-old student of Yavatmal’s Dahyabhai Patel Sharirik Shikshan Mahavidyalaya, who was beaten up by a mob along with his cousin on Wednesday night by Yuva Sena workers while they were returning to their rented accommodation from a market.

The student and his 18-year-old cousin, who also studies at the same institute, on Friday boarded a train to Jammu along with 17 other students of the institute. From Jammu, they will travel to their homes in Kashmir. Over 30 other Kashmiri students are still at the institute appearing for semester-end practical examinations.

Read: After SC push, states say ensuring Kashmiri students’ safety

This comes a day after Ajinkya Motke (28), the district vice-president of Yuva Sena, and three of his accomplices, were arrested for allegedly beating up the two students. On Friday, they were produced in court, which sent Motke to magisterial custody while granting bail to others — Abhinav Wadgure (28), Amit Moon (22) and Gaurishankar Mane (28). They have been booked under the IPC and the Bombay Police Act.

The four have since been removed from Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena. “As of last evening, the party has sacked those involved in the act. Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India and no Indian, or for that matter, nobody should face the brunt of the anger towards terrorism. We understand the angst but it must be against terror, not innocent people,” Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray told The Indian Express on Friday.

Varun Sardesai, a Yuva Sena secretary, said the Yavatmal incident was an isolated case. He claimed that the incident was the result of “misplaced anger” of an activist. “It is a wrong incident and we have condemned it. Disciplinary action has been taken and the matter is closed. We consider the Kashmiri youths, who are nationalists, as our brothers. The Yuva Sena will always stand with them,” said Sardesai.

“Senior police officers have visited the educational institute where the Kashmiri students are studying. A list of the students has been made and their problems, if any, are being taken care of,” the police said in a press release.

“Vigil had been increased in the area where they reside and phone numbers of their landlords have been collected,” the note said, adding that the social media cell of the police was “keeping watch on the contents and quick action would be taken if any objectionable content is found circulating”.

Director General of Police Datta Padsalgikar said, “We had already alerted all the district superintendents of police and commissioners five days ago to ensue safety and security of Kashmiri students and residents in their respective areas. Further detailed instructions have also been circulated subsequently. The police have already registered a case in the incident that occurred at Yavatmal and culprits have been arrested. “

Speaking to The Indian Express from the Andaman Express train, the 19-year-old student said: “We were all planning to travel after the end of the practical exams on February 28. But the parents of some students were repeatedly calling me and asking me to bring them back. I had arranged for their admission in this college, so that’s why we decided to return early.”

He added that while he could not say if the other students would return to Yavatmal, he would “definitely” return. “I am not scared at all. In my two years in Yavatmal, I have never faced any such incident before. It was not local residents who beat us, they were outsiders. The local people rushed to our help, they rescued us and saved us. The college principal also helped in getting the FIR lodged.” Shah Faesal, who recently quit the IAS to enter politics, also helped in getting the FIR lodged, he said.

Officiating principal of the Yavatmal institute, Sandeep Chawak, said that the college has 52 Kashmiri students, and some of them had left for home since their practical examinations were over and the dates for the theory examinations were yet to be announced. The semester examinations for physical education are currently being held in the college, he added.

Read: Kashmiri students’ assault in Maharashtra: Prime accused sent to magisterial custody

“At first, it was natural for the students to be afraid but since police took prompt action in the matter, their fears were allayed. The environment has eased since,” said Chawak.

Syed Ahmad Rizvi of the J&K State Handicrafts Corporation in Mumbai, who is a liaison officer for Kashmiri students in Pune, said he had reached out to the students attacked in Yavatmal.

“I have communicated with the students who were attacked. They are not under any fear since their attackers have been arrested. The Kashmiri students studying in the same college are all fine. The principal has also assured me that they are all doing well.”

But there is uncertainty even among those who have stayed back. A second-year student of the institute said he and the other remaining Kashmiri students were planning to leave on February 28 when the exams ended.

“I don’t know whether we will return. It will all depend on the situation. Our parents are asking us to come back immediately. They are saying ‘we don’t want your degrees, we want you back safe’. We are not leaving our rooms after dark. We are worried about the high cost of air tickets and don’t feel safe going back by train,” the student said.

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