Since Mehbooba Mufti sworn in as Jammu & Kashmir’s Chief Minister, the state is witnessing unrest. In a packed hall at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar, a student representative complained to visiting officials from the Centre’s education ministry that they are forcefully being evacuated from the institute. They want action to be taken against policemen who lathicharged on students those were protesting.
In reaction to the celebrations by Kashmiri students following India’s defeat, non-Kashmiri students waved the tricolour on campus and tried to hoist it near NIT’s administrative block. They bellowed slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Murdabad’. On the other hand, the Kashmiri students raised slogans like ‘Hum Kya Chahte, Azadi’. BJP MP Tarun Vijay lauded the “patriotic students” for teaching separatists “a good lesson” by waving the national flag inside the campus. The unrest forced NIT authorities to suspend classes.
The next day, students were assured of normality. The HRD Ministry said the district administration and local authorities had extended the fullest cooperation, enabling the situation to be contained. NIT Director Rajat Gupta assured students, faculty and parents that the temporary situation arising out of tensions from disappointment at the outcome of the cricket match between India and West Indies on March 31 had been overcome. The situation on the campus and at the hostels is normal and academic activities would continue. The classes resumed with a heavy deployment of police and CRPF personnel. However in a fresh trouble, protesting students strained to leave the campus, lead to hostility with the police. A group of engineering students staged a protest march inside the campus. Police claimed that students holding placards and banners tried to leave the campus. The students, however, alleged that police used brute force and seized the Tricolour; they were carrying during the protest. They accused the policemen of barging into hostels and beating up students.
HRD ministry team has rushed to NIT. Omar Abdullah suggested that rushing a team from HRD ministry to NIT and replacing state police with the CRPF hinted at Centre’s lack of confidence in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. They have also objected to the police action being called “a mild lathicharge” by a state minister, alleging that several injured students have undergone surgery. The students have demanded that exams scheduled from Monday be postponed to allow them to go home. Education Minister Smriti Irani has assured students that examinations will be conducted in a “secure environment” at the institute and she will ensure no injustice will be done to them. However, many students already left the campus and are towards their home.
Earlier, Smriti Irani wished that all the educational institutes will have to hoist national flags. The police said that they asked the students not to furl the national flag as it causes strong reactions in Jammu & Kashmir, which has its own flag that is used for official functions.
In the past also, the state government has stopped political parties from hoisting the national flag to avoid the law and order problems. The entire issue of Jammu & Kashmir has turned up as a political issue. Everyone is baking their political ‘rotis’ on this situation. Here the question is, why does everything have to be BJP vs Congress / Hindu vs Muslim/ Kashmiri vs non Kashmiri, separatist vs non separatist. Irrespective of what actually happened, police should not have opted to such dire resorts and they have to face the consequences of it. Also, separatist comments and articles in media don’t do much to unite India but divide it further. If this continues soon ‘Bharat Mata’ will be decapitated. It’s high time, people should wake up and support fellow Indians. People should not be penalized for raising slogans but for their actions. Admiring a cricket player irrespective of his nationality for his cricketing brilliance is one thing, but being an Indian national, celebrating India’s defeat is another aspect. More dangerous is, when Indian students are beaten up by police for hoisting tricolor and for chanting slogans hailing ‘Mother India’. This shows where their loyalty to the country lies. Those supporting WI against India are ‘anti-National’, and those supporting India have true love for the nation? How one should arrive at a conclusion pertaining to the entire event without getting into politics?
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)