AS more colleges asked their Kashmiri students to temporarily leave the city, one institute suspended its Dean because a protesting mob demanded it.
Aabid Majeed Kuchay, 27, Dean, Academics, at the Dehradun-based Alpine College of Management and Technology, was placed under suspension on Saturday after a crowd of Hindutva groups including the ABVP, Bajrang Dal and VHP, demanded that Kuchay, a Kashmiri, be fired.
An estimated 3,000 students from Kashmir currently attend colleges and institutes in Dehradun. Hundreds have left the city over the past three days fearing backlash after the Pulwama terror attack.
“For the safety of the college and the Kashmiri students in it, I asked college authorities to suspend me,” Kuchay, who is from Kaddar in Kashmir’s Kulgam district, told The Indian Express.
When contacted, Alpine college chairman Anil Saini said: “The mob was so aggressive that we had to give in to their demands.”
The suspension letter, however, only states that Kuchay is relieved from his duties with immediate effect, Saini said. “We gave no reason. The suspension letter does not even have a reference number which is a must. Basically, the letter has no legal value but we had to issue the suspension letter because of the mob. We needed to do whatever was demanded to keep our students safe,” Saini said.
Saini said that Kuchay had no history of being involved in any “anti-national activity” but his joining the college again was uncertain. “I won’t be able to say whether we will be able to bring him back to the institute. Only if the situation permits will we ask him to join us again,” he said.
The college has up to 300 Kashmiri students.
Kuchay held administrative responsibilities including framing the time-table for various courses, ensuring attendance and inviting admissions from Jammu and Kashmir. Working in the college for over three years, he has an MBA degree and, occasionally, took lectures on human resource management for BBA students.
A civil engineering student was rusticated from the Dev Bhoomi Institute of Technology (DBIT) for posting “anti-national content” on social media, college authorities said. DBIT also asked Kashmiri students to temporarily leave Dehradun. Said Dean (Hostels) Arjun Singh: “Everyone in the city is angry and we need to protect our students, so we are helping them leave the city by providing them vehicles till the airport and the bus station. We are also in touch with their parents to ensure their safety. They’ll return once the situation here normalises.”
Over 50 Kashmiri students study in DBIT, eight of them are in the institute’s hostel.
SP City Shweta Choubey said, “We have been doing everything in our capacity to ensure that all Kashmiri students are safe. We are speaking to them, we have been accompanying the ones who are scared, we have been asking them to stay put but some are scared and are leaving. We will ensure that they return to Dehradun soon.”
A Kashmiri student at Ras Bihari Bose Subharti University was suspended for a Facebook post “celebrating” the terror attack, officials said. The student is currently in Sudhowala jail.
Activists from right-wing groups including the ABVP entered the city-based Uttaranchal College of Science and Technology Monday and misbehaved with Kashmiri students. After the incident, Kamal Sawhney, Managing Director, filed an FIR in the Rajpur police station citing violence by the mob. Nathi Lal Uniyal, Station Officer, Rajpur police station said, “We have arrested 23 persons for engaging in violence.”
Posters with derogatory references to Kashmiris and calls to boycott them were spotted in the Prem Nagar neighbourhood of the city. “We went to the place where the posters were spotted and explained to the people not to engage in such activities. No such posters have been spotted since then,” said Station House Officer of Prem Nagar police station Narendra Gahlawat.
There are also cases of landlords asking Kashmiri tenants to leave. A 25-year-old from Sopore, a final year student at Uttaranchal (PG) College of Bio-Medical Sciences and Hospital, said his landlord had asked him to leave.
“I had called the police to the house because I hadn’t eaten for two days and wanted to go to the market but was scared to go alone. The police accompanied me to the market and back. The landlords later told me that they didn’t like seeing police in the house. They said that I could live in their house for 10-15 days, till the situation calms down here, but after that I would have to leave,” he said.
Contacted by The Indian Express, the landlord refused to comment.