Srinagar: Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh are feeling insecure after threatening banners appeared in the city of Meerut with a message for Kashmiri students: “leave the state or face consequences”. Students say that the banners were the “first public threat”, though a “charged communal atmosphere” exists on the ground ever since BJP won the state elections.
Increasing threats to Kashmiris living in different Indian states prompted Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, to ask all chief ministers to ensure that no Kashmiri is harassed in their respective states.
A little-known outfit called the Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena – apparently styled after the Shiv Sena-offshoot, Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena – put up banners in Meerut giving Kashmiri students time till April 30 to leave the state.
Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh, who spoke to Kashmir Reader over phone, said that they had been facing harassment by extremist Hindus earlier too. But the open threat, issued through the banners, is forcing some of them to consider returning home.
“If such large-size banners were allowed to be put up publicly, one could imagine how safe we are,” a student said, wishing not to be named. “We fear that in coming days, the situation may get worse here. These groups enjoy political support and feel emboldened under the Hindu right-wing government”.
As per media reports, the group that put up the threatening banners in Meerut has also asked people in UP to boycott Kashmiris. It has also declared that its members will hold camps outside Jammu and Kashmir Bank branches in UP, to appeal customers to close their accounts in the bank so as to stop funding Kashmiris.
“These funds are used to hurl stones on the Indian Army in the Valley. Why should we provide them the instrument (money)? Our non-cooperation movement against Kashmiri people will also target universities, where our people will make an appeal to socially boycott them,” a national daily quoting the group’s chief, Amit Jaani, reported.
“Unse kalam, salam band karo (do not talk or exchange pleasantries with them). They will leave the state soon,” Jaani, a resident of Meerut’s Shiv Shakti Nagar, was quoted as saying.
Reports said that the administration has ordered immediate removal of the banners. “No one will be allowed to take the law into their hands. We will make all possible arrangements to ensure security to everyone in the district,” said Meerut (city) police superintendent, Alok Priyadarshi.