Why are Kashmiri Students under a Cloud of Suspicion?

Why are Kashmiri Students under a Cloud of Suspicion?
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Zeeshan Rasool Khan

Often described as the valley of grief and mourning, Kashmir hardly witnesses a single day of respite from bloodshed. To escape the situation and the environment, irrespective of their age, social status, and the conditions and when their life is valueless, mostly for their career aspirations, some Kashmiri youth prefer to exit. However, instead of respite and relief, some become victims of intimidation, humiliation, name-calling and physical aggression.
On the pretext of the cricket match and subsequent celebration of Pakistan victory, cooking of meat, security reasons, and other unrealistic issues, Kashmiris, in general, and students, in particular, are facing gratuitous wrath and suffer deep sense of insecurity in many parts of India. Wherever they go, they most often never find smiling faces around them. Starting from boarding a train to reaching their destination, from the apartment (which they get with great difficulties) to colleges, they always find themselves in a precarious state.
Security checking and frisking compose part of police duty but for Kashmiris ways and methods alter. Checking of bags, pockets and other stuff follows disassembling of cell phones. An individual doubts himself, forgets his belonging to a family, having dreams in their eyes for him instead of being the intelligence agent. During the journey, with people around him, he finds himself as an alien. Exceptionally if anyone talks to him, either it would be aimed at hurting, jeering or ridiculing him.
Sensible minds also exist; no doubt there are many who talk sense but the hare-brained mostly outnumber them. Once while travelling, a person with thick moustaches who claimed to be a retired police officer said: Wahaan Par Itna Achaa Pani Hai, itnay achhay Kutey hai, Phir bhee azaadi maangtey ho, Humaray yehaan tou paisun mein kutey miltey hain (You have water there, (beautiful) dogs there, still you demand freedom, We here get dogs worth thousands). Some put forth Arnab Goswami’s version; holding the nerve remains the only way out. And, in the market, the person feels mostly isolated not culturally but behaviorally as well. I have a personal incident to narrate here. On day, while we were in the market, suddenly a shopkeeper called: Baya! (Brother), and as we approached nearer, the man pointing towards Television said: Dekho aap kay logun nay kya kiya (See what your people did), what it was? “Peshawar school Attack”. In another incident, one of our colleagues had a beard and was called from behind, Oye Aatankwadi. Such happenings may be condonable, however; the impact they have on one’s psyche is inexpressible.
While many of the universities/ colleges provide a favorable environment, of which mine was one, some fail to maintain impartiality between locals and Kashmiris. Recently, Kashmiri students were roughed up serially within the campuses of many institutes like Jodhpur Vyas Institute, Mewar University and so on, without any provocation. The Haryana incident is latest one in a string of recent attacks on Kashmiri students, where Kashmiri students were beaten up by people while returning back to university premises for “no reason”. Police reach the spot every time but to do what a Kashmiri expects: cover up a misdemeanor. Till date, this hooliganism forced many Kashmiris to leave their job, studies and in some cases, business.
New Delhi based Human Right groups have been vocal against these incidents and they admit that Kashmiri students in India are victims of police harassment, humiliating searches, intimidations, demands of bribery by local policemen under the pretext of fighting terrorism. However, redressal neither materializes for either New Delhi or the administration here. No serious effort has so far been made by the administration in this regard. The follow up, in the nature of a condemnatory press statement appears, re-appears and the saga goes on and on.

—The author hails from Seer Hamdan and writes on current socio-political issues. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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