At the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in New Delhi, the evening of 9 February 2016 was no different from 9 February 2015 when we had demonstrated against the judicial killings of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat and to show solidarity with our people who are fighting for the right to self-determination. This year also we had assembled to commemorate the death anniversary of Afzal Guru.
A few former members of Democratic Students Union had organised a cultural meeting cum protest against, as they had proclaimed in event posters, the “the judicial killing of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat”, and to express solidarity with “the struggle of Kashmiri people for their democratic right to self-determination”. A few Kashmiri students from various universities and colleges besides JNU too were present at the event.
The event was proceeding peacefully. But when a Kashmiri Pandit girl rose up and asked “what about Kashmiri Pandits”, it appeared that the ABVP members, who were present in large numbers, had been waiting for such a moment. They started threatening all students, including Kashmiris.
When they shouted “ye Kashmir Hamara hai, saara ka saara hai (Kashmir is ours, all of it). We countered with “hum kya chahte, Azadi (what do we want, freedom)”. It was just an action and reaction process. Such encounters are not uncommon in JNU. They have happened earlier also, but this time it appeared it was happening according to a plan. When they became violent, we ran away and returned to our hostels and rented accommodations.
Since then the Delhi police have spearheaded a vicious crackdown on Kashmiri students in New Delhi, which forced most of us to return home or move somewhere else. There are many students who have not contacted their families for the past one week because they apprehend a phone call might give them away.
After the Indian media channels launched a vitriolic campaign of hate, I had been on the run, living with Kashmiri friends. All these days, I had switched off my phone.
Delhi police has made it a routine to come to our university in search of Kashmiri students, but luckily no Kashmiri has been arrested yet as we have stopped to attend our classes from that day.
Some Indian friends told me that policemen in civvies have started frequenting our campus to keep an eye on Kashmiri students.
These days, Delhi is for Kashmiris what it was in the nineties, when every Kashmiri was a suspect. It is difficult to live there and continue our studies. I took an early morning flight in the hope they would be sleeping in their homes.
—Author is a Kashmiri student at Jamia Millia Islamia. He was interviewed by Kashmir Reader correspondent Asim Shah at his home