Newly-appointed Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma on Tuesday said Kashmiris are safe in the city and security has been beefed up in areas where they reside. Sharma’s comments came in the backdrop of a Kashmiri doctor saying he was considering to leave the city after his daughters complained of ostracism in school and neighbourhood, in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
The doctor had claimed that he was threatened of dire consequences if he stayed back in the city with his family. Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district last week after a when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus. “Kashmiris are very safe in the city. We have already identified the pockets where they are staying. We have interacted with them and ensured their safety and security,” Sharma, who took charge on Tuesday, told reporters at Lalbazar, the city police headquarters.
Kashmiri students of various universities and colleges in the city said they feel safe in Kolkata, which they consider their “second home”. “My friends and batch mates have always made sure I am safe and secure here. I am neither being harassed nor bullied for my origin after the Pulwama attack. “I have been staying in the city for the last three years and it feels like my second home,” said Rasheed (name changed), a student of a Kolkata-based university from Kashmir.
Commenting on the Kashmiri doctor’s allegations, he said he was disappointed over it. “Such incidents of Kashmiris and people from the northeast being bullied is common in the northern part of the country, but not here,” the student said.
Masood (name changed), an engineering student, said Kolkata has always welcomed Kashmiris with open arms. He said his father and his uncle used to sell Kashmiri shawls in the city. “During my childhood, I heard a lot of stories about Kolkata from my parents. After I passed my Class 12, I was sent here to pursue my engineering degree,” Masood said.
The TMC students union has been organising programmes in colleges and universities to sensitise students. The Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata, has also been holding prayer meetings in the city for the return of peace in the Valley. “We want peace to return to the Valley so that we, the Kashmiri Pandits, can return to our land,” Kashmir Sabha secretary Narendra Kaul, said.
The Home Ministry on Saturday issued an advisory to all states and Union territories to take measures to ensure the safety and security of Kashmiris.