Tension erupted at Government Degree College, Bani, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district on Saturday after a lecturer allegedly showed disrespect to the national anthem at the conclusion of Surgical Strike Day celebrations.
Identifying the lecturer as 30-year-old Touseef Ahmed Bhat of Anantnag, sources said that he had been appointed on a contractual basis at the college for the second year in a row to teach political science. The agitating students later lodged a complaint with Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ajeet Singh, who said he had asked the college principal Prof Asha Ram Sharma to submit a report in the matter.
Significantly, this came a day after Kathua police on Friday registered an FIR against unknown persons for showing disrespect to the national flag by displaying it upside down during a rally by BJP leaders in the town. In the rally on Thursday, BJP’s sitting MLA and former minister Rajiv Jasrotia had accompanied its candidate Rahul Dev Sharma to file nomination papers for urban local body elections from ward No. 19.
Sources said that trouble erupted when the national anthem was being played at the end of speeches by students and college teachers about patriotism. During the national anthem, the lecturer kept his one hand in the pocket and another behind his back with one leg taking the support of a wall.
After the function was over, the students interrogated the lecturer about his behaviour. The latter allegedly started arguing with them and even questioned the singing of the anthem and application of Indian Constitution in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.
College principal Sharma, who was away in Kathua in connection with some official work, said that he would constitute a committee to inquire into the incident. “If allegations are found true, we will lodge a formal complaint with the police,’’ he added.
Significantly, this has been the second time that a contractual college lecturer at Bani has landed in trouble over the issue of nationalism during last two years. In November 2016, police had booked a contractual lecturer of history in the college on charges of sedition after he allegedly glorified Pakistani terrorists in a lecture. The lecturer was disengaged and he is still facing trial at a local court in Kathua.
Bani has Hindu and Muslim population in the ratio of 60:40 and both the communities have been living amicably. “However, in view of the area being communally sensitive, I had advised the lecturer to stay away from any controversy,’’ said that college principal. One of the college students said that they had already told Touseef to stay away from the function if he had any problem with the celebrations and the national anthem.