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A large private university in Meerut has suspended 67 Kashmiri students for allegedly cheering Pakistan during the India-Pak match at the Asia Cup on Sunday. The students were told to vacate their hostel rooms, and were escorted by police and university officials to nearby Ghaziabad. Some students are now back with their families in the Valley.
Groups of students were watching the match on TV in the community hall of the hostel at the Swami Vivekananda Subharti University (SVSU). A clash broke out soon after India lost, a result which the Kashmiris allegedly celebrated. No action was taken against the other group.
G S Bansal, the warden of the hostel, said the Kashmiri students had been punished for being “anti-national”. “By raising pro-Pakistan slogans, the Kashmiri boys did an anti-national act, and that was why we suspended them and did not take any action against the others,” Bansal told The Indian Express.
SVSU vice-chancellor Manzoor Ahmed said the suspension was a “precautionary measure”.
“There was strong resentment against the students who had shouted anti-national and pro-Pakistan slogans after Pakistan won the match. So as a precautionary measure, we temporarily suspended students of J&K for three days. We arranged for two buses to take the boys to Ghaziabad. We also sent three senior university officials with them,” Ahmed said.
Eyewitnesses said heated exchanges followed all-rounder Shahid Afridi’s last-over sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin, which quickly escalated to brawls, followed by several rounds of stone-throwing. “Security guards did not intervene for nearly an hour after the violence began. The students were ultimately forced to go to their rooms, but the groups clashed again on Monday,” said a student who spoke on condition of anonymity.
University registrar R K Garg said the students were sent home because the university feared more violence. “Meerut is communally sensitive. We were apprehensive that if word of the violence got out, outsiders would storm the campus and target students,” Garg said.
In Srinagar, families of the suspended students said they hoped for normalcy to return to the campus soon. “The university has ordered the students to leave for some time in order to avert confrontations between groups,” Abdul Majeed Khan of Uri said. Khan’s son is a second year student of BBA at the university. He added that the university administration had taken the right steps.
Shahid Bashir, whose son Talib Bashir had to leave Meerut, said, “The university has asked the students to leave for a few days. Most of the students have left for the Valley, while a few are staying in Delhi with friends. Once the situation improves, they will rejoin the university.”