By Haroon Reshi
Srinagar: Kashmir civil society members said on Tuesday that NIT row had been engineered by rightwing forces and some academics and students within the institution to harm Kashmiri traders and students in India.
Hameeda Nayeem, chairperson Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies, who addressed a press conference along with Bar Association president Mian Qayoom, said an internal inquiry carried out by civil society members has found that non-Kashmiri students actually sowed seeds of the crisis on March 25, when they celebrated Pakistani cricket team’s defeat by Australia at Mohali.
“It is important to set the record right by putting the facts before the Indian public. Non-Kashmiri students celebrated this defeat with great fanfare to apparently provoke the Kashmiri students and revel at their discomfiture.
“Kashmiri students then celebrated India’s loss to West Indies on March 31 but the next day non-Kashmiri students marched in the campus carrying big Indian flag which descended as if from heaven,” she added.
She said that the non-Kashmiri students beat up a courier boy for not chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai and research scholar Shoaib who tried to counsel them against creating trouble and disturbing peaceful relations between students on the campus
“A look at the videos and photographs tells us that it was all planned, a fact corroborated by the students and objective analysts of the college who point the finger at one teacher in the metallurgy department as the mastermind behind these happenings in the college,” she added.
“Where did the Indian flag come from? Tricolours are not available here in the market. Another intriguing thing was that people like Anupam Kher tweeted about the incident even before staffers in the college came to know about hoisting of the flag.”
She accused BJP and RSS for “outsourcing the trouble in universities and colleges” and criticised people like actor Anupam Kher for “ensuring that this trouble is broadcast on ultra-nationalist and communal news channels”.
Mian Qayoom said the NIT was blown out of proportion by Indian news channels.
“Whatever happened there was a pre-planned affair supported by some political forces outside Kashmir. There is deep conspiracy against Kashmiris. They don’t want our students and businessmen to go to Indian states. The also want to harm the tourism industry to make us economically cripple,” he said.
Qayoom, a senior resistance leader, said Kashmiris would not remain silent if Kashmiri students are attacked in India.
Apart from security for Kashmiri students studying in India, the civil society members called for an end to hate campaign against Kashmiris telecast round-the-clock by a few Indian news channels, especially Times Now and NewsX.
Indian news channels had highlighted the police baton charge on protesting non-Kashmiri students, and rightwing activists had lashed out at the police for targeting the students.
“Non-Kashmiri students pelted the police with stones and profusely abused them while persisting in their efforts to come out of the campus. After that the police used lathicharge to disperse them. Kashmiris have borne the brunt of brute force in the form of pellet guns which are tried on our youth every now and then for simple peaceful processions and many have lost their eyesight in these operations but no eyebrows have been raised in Delhi so far. In NIT case the issue of police action has been blown out of proportion as if such a thing had happened for the first not only in the history of Kashmir but in the history of mankind,” Hameeda said.
The JKCSDS and Bar Association also appealed to international organisations to take note of the growing attacks on Kashmiris in India and to put pressure on Indian government to ensure safety of Kashmiri students and businessmen in India.
Dismissing reports that non-Kashmiri students felt threatened at NIT by Kashmiri students, Hameeda said, “There are around 2700 students at NIT and out of these only about 600 are local. How can they threaten the non-local students?”
“There are about 10,000 outstations students in local BEd colleges. There are thousands of non-local beggars in Kashmir and every year lakhs of Indian tourists come here. Every outsider praises the hospitality of Kashmirs. The NIT issue has been blown out of proportion by anti-Kashmir propagandists,” Mian Qayoom added.
The civil society members asked non-Kashmiri students at NIT to not become pawns “in the hands of vested interests”.
“Different ideological leanings which are permissible should not become a cause of skirmishes, divisions, disaffection, resulting in mutual bitterness, animosity and hatred,” they said.