Srinagar: Nearly two dozen Kashmiri students, mostly girls, pursuing BDS from the Desh Bhagat Dental College and Hospital (DBDCH) in Muktsar, Punjab, have been harassed and threatened by their colleagues after India’s loss to Pakistan in the cricket match on Sunday.
The Kashmiris, 20 of them girls, and all first year students of BDS at the DBDU, told Kashmir Reader on Tuesday that they were harassed hours after Pakistan defeated India. They said a group of around 50 students appeared outside their hostel rooms and hurled abuses on them and called them Pakistanis. “They also threatened us of dire consequences in case we moved outside the varsity campus,” the students said.
“We’re living under constant fear. We’re seven boys and 20 girls at the college right now. Two of our male colleagues have gone to Kashmir. We are very worried about our safety,” a student, insisting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader over phone.
Recalling the events, the student said that Kashmiri boys were watching Indo-Pak match at the hostel mess along with their non-Kashmiri colleagues. While the non-Kashmiris were cheering on seeing team India moving towards the victory, the Kashmiri students, he said, silently watched the match.
“When the match ended, we retired to our rooms. However, after sometime, the non-Kashmiri students assembled outside and started abusing us. It was a nightmare for all of us,” he said.
After allegedly harassing the boys, the non-Kashmiri students, he said, appeared outside the girls’ hostel and abused them, too. “Some girls broke down in tears. They’re feeling very insecure,” he said.
Next morning, he said, the Kashmiris went to the office of Principal Dr Ajeet Pal Singh to apprise him about the harassment. However, the non-Kashmiri students, he said, had reached the place in advance.
“There too they harassed and abused us for being Pakistan supporters. They called us Pakistani dogs. They warned us of serious consequences if we were spotted outside the campus,” he said.
The fresh incidents of attacks and intimidations of Kashmiri students in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are not isolated cases. In past, dozens of such cases have been reported from Hyderabad, Jharkhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bhopal, Himachal Pradesh and many other states. A few mysterious deaths of Kashmiri students in Indian universities have instilled a fear psychosis among the students aspiring to pursue higher studies outside the state.
Facing sharp criticism for their alleged failure to ensure safety of Kashmiri students outside the Valley, the state government had last week announced round-the-clock helpline for Kashmiri students pursuing higher education in other states to report the incidents of harassment.
“Dedicated helpline (011-24611108 and 011-24611210) would be available on 24×7 basis in the office of Principal Resident Commissioner, J&K, New Delhi for reporting any incident of harassment (against students of J&K outside the state),” Home Minister, Sajad Kitchloo had told the Legislative Assembly last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Director, DBDCH, Dr Bhatnagar blamed the Kashmiri students for “creating the mess” after Pakistan sealed victory over India.
“The Kashmiri students created the mess. Not only boys, but Kashmiri girls also raised pro-Pakistan slogans. They should understand that they were not in Kashmir but in the middle part of India and their sloganeering for Pakistan was bound to create problems. The students should not create nuisance. It’s a political issue,” Dr Bhatnagar said.
He said he personally felt offended when he learnt that “the Kashmiri students have raised pro-Pakistan slogans to express their joy.”
“I personally feel they should not have raised these slogans. A game is a game. They should have contained their emotions. Instead of creating trouble, they should focus on their career,” Dr Bhatnagar said.
He said the college authorities, including the Principal, have pacified both the parties and brought the situation under control after a meeting on Tuesday. He said he was hopeful that such incidents will not occur in future.
“We have tightened our security. We don’t want any student to suffer, whether he or she is from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. All the students are like my children. Ensuring their safety is my priority,” Dr Bhatnagar said.
“I have deputed one chowkidar for night duty in front of the rooms of Kashmiri girls. They should not worry about their safety. All Kashmiri students are safe here,” he added.