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As AMU vacates its hostels, students from Kashmir and northeast caught in limbo

The Aligarh Muslim University's sudden decision to declare early winter vacations following protests over Citizenship Act has caused inconvenience to students, especially research scholars from Kashmir, who have to submit their final dissertations next month.

Written by Abhishek De | New Delhi | Updated: December 18, 2019 3:07:56 pm
As AMU vacates its hostels, students from Kashmir and northeast caught in limbo Students depart from Aligarh Muslim University on Monday, December 16, 2019. (Express Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

The Aligarh Muslim University’s decision to declare early winter vacations and ask students to vacate hostels following Sunday’s violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act have left a section of students from Kashmir and North-East with no place to go.

Till Tuesday night, about 95 per cent of students had left for their hometowns, AMU spokesperson Professor Shafay Kidwai said. Around 200 students, who stayed put in their rooms, were given an ultimatum to leave by 11 am Wednesday.

While the university administration arranged for buses to ferry students till Jammu, those from the Valley were in a state of limbo after connectivity to Kashmir was hit due to heavy snowfall. The Srinagar-Jammu Highway is closed due to bad weather while air traffic to the Valley is suspended till December 22.

The university’s sudden decision has caused inconvenience to students, especially research scholars from Kashmir, who have to submit their final dissertations next month.

As AMU vacates its hostels, students from Kashmir and northeast caught in limbo Till Tuesday night, about 95 per cent of students had left for their hometowns, AMU spokesperson said. (Express Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

Sajad Rathar, a Kashmiri student leader and former vice-president of AMU student’s union, said the provost and police had come to the hostel to make the remaining students vacate their rooms but he had refused.

“We have to submit our final research papers next month. In such a situation, we cannot go back to Kashmir where there is still a communication clampdown and Internet has not been fully restored. How can we complete our project in such a scenario,” asked Rathar, who hails from Baramulla district.

Sajad said Kashmiri research scholars have asked AMU’s controller and deputy proctor to make alternative arrangements for them, failing which they would sit on a dharna. “We will write to the Vice-Chancellor soon. If they don’t agree, then we will sit on a dharna,” he said.

Political Science research scholar Mubashir Hussain Shah, who hails from Anantnag, rued the fact that the university was not supporting them and speaking the language of the district administration.

“We have no other option except to empty the hostel since the university is not supporting us. They are speaking like the district administration. It’s not a good time to resist as the campus is filled with police personnel,” Shah said.

Besides no internet connectivity, students are also grappling with food shortage. Shah said the canteens were closing early and preparing less food as hostels emptied. “Last night, all shops were closed too outside the AMU campus,” he added.

As AMU vacates its hostels, students from Kashmir and northeast caught in limbo Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students protest against the passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Aligarh, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. (PTI Photo)

AMU spokesperson Kidwai, however, said the university had spoken with the J&K administration which has assured that travel arrangements would be made for students to travel to the Valley from Jammu.

“We have provided bus services till Jammu and travel arrangement would also be made for students from Kashmir. We have spoken to railway officials and they have agreed to halt some trains at Aligarh so that the students can reach home,” Kidwai said.

Meanwhile, students from the northeast are facing a similar situation. MA English student Shahidul Islam, who hails from Assam, the epicentre of the protests against the citizenship law, said no facilities have been provided for northeast students.

“Students from Assam and Tripura have nowhere to go as train services have been stopped and flight operations are yet to resume fully. While some have left for Delhi, a few are staying at houses of local students,” he said.

Also read | Uttar Pradesh: 113 held for violence during protests over citizenship law

On Tuesday, 26 people booked in connection with Sunday violence were released on personal bonds. Professor Kidwai said out of the 26, only seven were AMU students. “This vindicates our claim that the violence was perpetrated by outsiders and not by the students,” he said.

On Sunday evening, the Bab-e-Syed gate was the epicentre of the clash. A group of students gathered at the gate to protest police assault against Jamia Milia Islamia students. Within an hour, the protest took a violent turn. The police alleged that students had pelted them with stones, following which tear gas shells were fired and the protesters lathicharged.

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