What apparently started after the West Indies’ annihilation of India in the World Cup at Mumbai has its genesis, perhaps, in the Indian win over Bangladesh in a cliffhanger. The win was followed by anti-Pakistan, anti-Kashmir and pro-Indian slogans in the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar. We stayed silent, letting the non-local students vent their frustration in celebrating in such a manner. But the West Indies victory over India at Wankhede on Thursday ignited the flame, finally. The win aroused Kashmiris all over the Valley. Kashmir lit up in celebration.
NIT was no different. Sloganeering took place. Celebrations faded into the night. The non-locals in NIT, on Friday, in a manner that resembles the Hindutva groups in India, went to the Director’s Office to register a complaint against “West Indian supporters” and celebrating students. A march was taken out by them wherein slogans of “Bharat Mata” were raised and the Indian tricolor hoisted. When a Kashmiri student asked them to avoid anti-Kashmir sloganeering, they pounced on him and beat him black and blue. A local professor intervened to calm the situation but they did not spare him either. This angered the local students.
We gathered near the fountain in the centre of NIT campus and sat there, demanding action against the non-locals. They charged towards us raising the Indian flag and chanting slogans. We held ground. Subsequently, a quarrel broke out. They were armed with rods and sticks. They seemed on a preplanned mission. Being a tiny minority, we suffered most of the injuries. They vandalised property, destroying infrastructure within lecture halls. They even pelted stones at us. A courier service boy was not spared either. He faced a thrashing from the unruly mob as well. Enter JK police. And teargas shelling. And locking down of the NIT gate.
Students were then asked to vacate the hostel. Kashmiris were evicted the same day, while non-locals have been given a day more. Many Kashmiris were wandering outside the campus because they had nowhere to go. Students from far-off places wandered on the streets throughout the night. The non-local students essentially tried to do an ABVP in NIT. They tried to complain to the NIT authorities in order to punish the Kashmiri students for celebrating the West Indies win. The same gimmick that was enacted by ABVP in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi was recreated here. But probably the non-local students forgot that Kashmir is not India.
We have been associating ourselves with any cricket team that plays against India. History needs to remind them this lesson. We face a tough time ahead and fear for our safety inside the campus given the fact that we constitute a tiny minority in the institute. The non-locals with whom we share classrooms, dinner tables and playgrounds turned monsters for us. They have been living a secure life within and around the campus. They have never been harassed or harmed, by anyone. But their violent behavior now has raised serious concerns. We have started to doubt their very intentions, particularly after fascist sections in India termed it a “courageous act which even the Indian team could not do”.
The committee constituted by the administration is yet to announce its results, which we hope will implicate and punish the real culprits, failing which the committee will be seen as partners in the crime of the non-local students-turned-hooligans. NIT no more seems a peaceful place to study with Kashmiris being beaten in their own land.
—(The writer wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal)