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Protesting students at NIT Srinagar: This isn’t India, get us out of here

On Wednesday, as a team of the HRD Ministry landed in Srinagar to review the situation, the students put forth several demands, including shifting the NIT out of the Valley.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: April 7, 2016 12:32:05 pm
Students at NIT campus in Srinagar. (Source: Facebook) Students at NIT campus in Srinagar. (Source: Facebook)

As the two-day-old Mehbooba Mufti government and the Centre moved to lower the temperature on the NIT Srinagar campus, where a clash after India’s semi-final defeat in the T20 World Cup split students into Valley and non-Valley groups, the latter raised a slew of “non-negotiable” demands including hoisting of the Tricolour at the campus main gate and shifting the institute outside Kashmir.

Calling themselves “Indian students”, the non-Valley students confronted the NIT administration and told a three-member team, sent by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, that “This is not India, Sir. We cannot live here. You will have to shift the college.”

Images and a video of students being beaten by police did the rounds Wednesday.

 

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Demanding the resignation of the NIT administration and action against policemen who charged at them with lathis a day earlier when they tried to move out of the Valley out of the campus, the students said they will continue to boycott classes until their conditions are met.

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“Any discussion… (if needed) will be entertained by us only in New Delhi. We will not discuss anything here in the campus even with Minister of HRD,” the students said in a letter to the HRD Ministry.

In Surat, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said she had spoken to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who had assured her that “students are safe and no injustice will be done to any of them”. The Chief Minister, she said, had also ordered a departmental inquiry into the incident.

“We have sent a team from the HRD to Srinagar. They are on the campus and have spoken to around 500 students. We are trying our level-best to build confidence among students,” she said.

Irani said the HRD team will help those students who wish to return home, and will remain in Srinagar until the examinations, starting April 11, get over. “Our intention is to create a safe environment on the campus so that students can take the exams and go back home,” she said.

The HRD team, comprising directors Sanjeev Sharma and Faizal Mehmood and NIT board of governors chairman M J Zarabi, were told by the non-Valley students that “we are not here to have any discussion with you, we are not here to give you reasons… we will continue the protest until this college is shifted from here”.

Zarabi told the students: “I am sorry to hear all that I have heard… Very strong sentiments have been expressed and very strong recommendations have been made. We have heard you patiently. One can’t react, take a decision sitting here. Before taking any action, certain clarifications have to be sought”.

He asked students to remain calm, saying “don’t take any step that will make things worse”.

While the situation on the NIT campus is the first test for the new PDP-BJP government, Valley leaders do not want it to slide any further.

State Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said students from outside the Valley are “like our own children” and proper security arrangements will be made for them. He said the SP himself is camping at the NIT to oversee security measures.

Even hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has asked students to “concentrate on studies”. He said “non-local students are our guests and we always welcome them here”.

— With ENS from Surat, New Delhi.

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