Srinagar: A group of 67 Kashmiri students suspended by a private university in Uttar Pradesh state for celebrating Pakistan team’s victory over India in a recently held Asia Cup match are reluctant to return to the varsity due to constant fear of attack by non-Kashmiri students and Hindu rightwing groups there.
“We have been demonized by the university and police over a cricket match. We have been made soft targets with the slapping of sedition charges (which were dropped later) and ouster from the campus. An impression has been created as if we waged a war against India. When such an atmosphere prevails we can’t think of going back,” a second year B Tech student of the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU) told Kashmir Reader on Saturday.
He said that as long as the issue was confined to the campus, the situation would have been much under control. However, the politicization of the issue, especially by the extremist groups like BJP, he said, has made the chances of return of Kashmir students to the varsity bleak.
“The cricket controversy has been politicized and blown out of proportion. BJP activists have further vitiated the atmosphere for their political gains. They staged protests and asked police to book all the Kashmiri students under anti-national activities. Will they let us live in peace if we return?” he asked.
A BBA student said the threat perception has increased since the local youth have got involved into the tussle which was earlier restricted to two groups of students. “Who can guarantee safety of Kashmiri students who were assaulted by non-Kashmiris in the presence of Warden and the campus security,” he said.
“The students can’t keep themselves confined to campus. They have to go out to the market to make purchases. And who’ll ensure their safety in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust?” he said.
“Those who attacked us in campus will leave no stone unturned to turn the locals against Kashmiris. The locals, who have been so helpful to us during the last two years, will be provoked. And that’s much more dangerous,” he added.
Preferring migration over return to SVSU, a B Tech student Aqib Hussain said that Kashmiris are prone to attacks in the communally sensitive city of Meerut, where the university is located, after the cricket controversy.
“My family is worried about my safety. They’re asking me to give up studies. However, I don’t want my career to suffer. But I don’t want to go to Meerut either. I’m ready to join any other college in other state of India.
“Like me, most of the students are scared to return. BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Hindu extremist groups won’t spare Kashmiri students. How can we concentrate on our studies in fearsome atmosphere?” he said.
“What’s the guarantee that the students who assaulted us, won’t put drugs or arms in our rooms and get us implicated in false cases. They hold grudge against Kashmiri students. We will never be safe there,” Hussain added.
Imran, a 4th semester student told Kashmir Reader that Meerut is no more an option for the Kashmiri students who have been repeatedly attacked by non-Kashmiri students at the campus. He said repeated assurances by the administration failed to end harassment of Kashmiri students.
On Friday, SVSU’s Registrar P K Garg had acknowledged that Kashmiri students were reeling under fear after the cricket match controversy.
“Even we have apprehensions that if the Kashmiri students are spotted outside the university something bad might happen to them. Many students, who were staying as paying guests, have returned to the hostel citing security reasons,” Garg had told Kashmir Reader.
“We saved Kashmiri students by sending them to Delhi. They would have been in big trouble had they been dropped at Meerut city,” he had added.
Meanwhile, the students also expressed concern over the circulation of a video on social networking websites. The students said the video uploaded on Facebook and Twitter has nothing to do with the Kashmiri students of the SVSU.
“It seems that some people want to malign the image of Kashmiri students. No student took off his clothes or shouted, as the video appears to show. This video is being attributed to us, which is totally false and baseless,” the students said.