Srinagar: In the middle of exam season at Kashmir University (KU), hundreds of students on Tuesday marched across the campus to demand that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) immediately stop questioning varsity scholar Aala Fazli, who is in New Delhi at the NIA headquarters after being summoned for questioning in a case of funding from Pakistan for “subversive activities in Jammu and Kashmir”.
The students began protesting as soon as the varsity opened in the morning. A protesting student told Kashmir Reader that the students started their march from KU hostels in Naseem Bagh towards the Iqbal Library, from where groups of students went inside different departments and gathered more students. All the students finally assembled outside the Humanities Block.
“It was a peaceful protest, wherein students sought an immediate end to intimidation by the so-called investigating agency,” said the student who was part of the protest. He said the students carried banners expressing solidarity with and support to Fazli.
“Since the summons was issued to Aala Bhai (on Friday), students kept waiting for his return (from Delhi) but he was called for questioning once again today,” said another student.
Fazli was called to Delhi on Monday where he was questioned from 11am to 6 pm. He was asked to report back at the NIA headquarters on Tuesday.
“This morning, students took out the march to make everyone aware that there are no grounds for such an action against Fazli,” the student said.
The students complained against KU authorities “for not intervening” in the matter. “We especially convoyed to the authorities (that) if questioning (of Aala Fazli) is not stopped forthwith, state-wide protests will be held,” another student, holding a banner of the banned Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU), told this newspaper.
“They (the state government) are forcing students to come on roads,” he added. “If protests spread, the responsibility will be on the state (government).”
He said that students, unlike in the past, did not march towards the Vice Chancellor’s office.
The students raised slogans and carried placards that read: “We Stand with Aala Fazli”, “Mr VC, Hand Over All of Us to NIA”, “NIA, You Cannot Scare Us”, “Go India, Go Back, NIA Back Off”. The students termed the NIA as “New Intimidating Agency”.
“Examinations (are) going on, otherwise there would have been a huge gathering (of students) today,” a participant who was scheduled to write his semester paper today, said.
The protests culminated around 12:25 pm when students made their way to their classrooms.
KU Proctor Prof Naseer Iqbal told Kashmir Reader, “We don’t know anything about this (NIA summon to Fazli).” He said he was “out of station” on Tuesday when students were protesting in the varsity campus.
The KU proctor added, “Why it (the NIA summon Fazli) has come, how it has come, we do not know.” For further information, Prof Iqbal asked this newspaper to contact the KU Registrar, who did not respond to calls from Kashmir Reader.
It may be recalled, a cop from Nigeen police station handed over the NIA summon to Fazli at his department on Friday.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, Head of Department, Pharmacy, where Fazli is a PhD scholar, Prof ZA Zulfi said, “The summon was directly delivered (to Fazli). He had asked for leave to attend to it (the NIA questioning).”
Prof Zulfi said that he forwarded the leave application to the Vice Chancellor. “I had no face-to-face meeting with him (Fazli),” he added. “The summon was not issued to the department.”
On students’ demand of KU intervention in the case, Prof Zulfi said, “The (pharmacy) department has already forwarded the leave application to the higher authorities and they will see about the case.”