UNION HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar Wednesday dismissed reports of alleged harassment of Kashmiri students outside their state in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack. “There is massive anger in the country against the Pulwama terror attack,” he said. “However, I want to clarify that what you are trying to say (about Kashmiri students being attacked) is not true. We are in touch with all institutes and no such incident has happened.”
However, last week two Dehradun-based educational institutions went on record that they will not admit Kashmiri students in future — a commitment given under duress as the colleges were threatened by a mob. The Uttarakhand Police this week arrested over 20 students for demanding expulsion of Kashmiri students from Dehradun.
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At least 10 Kashmiri students have been booked and 24 suspended or rusticated from colleges across the country for what officials called “anti-national” social media posts. Punjab college suspends two Kashmiri students
One college admitted that it had suspended a dean, from Jammu and Kashmir, because the mob asked for it. Several colleges have admitted that they are encouraging students from Kashmir return to the Valley until “things settle down.”
In fact, the issue of safety of Kashmiri students was raised by former J&K Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week. Hours after an all-party meeting on the matter on February 16, the Home Ministry issued an advisory nationwide to ensure safety and security of students and people from Jammu and Kashmir.
Several Kashmiri students, migrants, traders and professionals from many northern states, particularly Uttarakhand and Haryana, have had to pack up and leave.
In Uttarakhand alone, 11 students were suspended or rusticated in the last week under pressure from fellow students for their social media posts. At least 800 Kashmiri students have left the hill state, according to Nasir Khuehami, spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Organisation.
Of the 11 suspended, seven were from a university in Roorkee studying computer science, radiology, and commerce. College students alleged that one of them, a 19-year-old girl from Pulwama in Kashmir, had an Instagram account where she posted content in “praise” of Pakistan. College authorities said while the Instagram account belonged to the student, six of her “close friends” were also rusticated because other college students demanded so.
Station Officer, Bhagwanpur, Sanjeev Thapliyal said: “The college students alleged the Kashmiri students had posted anti-national content on Instagram, so in my presence the college rusticated them. An FIR had been registered.”
The student told The Indian Express: “I didn’t post anything against the country on social media. All of us are clueless what is to follow.whether we will be taken back in the university or not, we don’t know”.
The protesting mobs had members of the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ABVP, and students’ unions. Vikas Verma, Bajrang Dal leader in Dehradun, said, “We don’t want even one Kashmiri Muslim student in Uttarakhand because they are engaged in anti-national activities.”
DAV students’ union president Jitendra Singh Bisht said: “We have been approaching colleges in Dehradun to get an undertaking to the effect that the colleges won’t give admission to any Kashmiri student from the next session.”
In Bhopal, six Kashmiri students of Kushabhau Thakre Nursing College were expelled by the college management under pressure from Bajrang Dal activists who cited alleged “anti-India” Facebook posts by two of them. Chairman of the college Tajwar Khan said the college had no option because there were protests by a right-wing organization and other students.
In Ambala, at the Maharishi Markandeshwar University (MMU)’s Mullana campus, around 110 students were forced out of their rented accommodation by locals. What fanned these flames of jingoism was a video on social media showing a local village headman asking people to evict Kashmiri students in the area.
Some Kashmiri students were asked to leave within an hour on Saturday and some were given six hours. Local youth were seen checking rooms and asking landlords to evict Kashmiris.
In Karnataka, four Kashmiri students of a university were booked after allegations by VHP activists that they had posted “praise” of the bomber. A member of the Kashmiri association in Bangalore, who did not want to be named, said the group has arranged for lawyers to represent the students arrested in East Bangalore.