SRINAGAR: “I thought I would get lynched when my friend and I were beaten with helmets and sticks by a mob in Dehradun. None of the locals came to our rescue,” said Jamshed Ahmad, a Kashmiri student studying at Baba Farid Institute of Technology (BIFT), Dehradun.
Jamshed said they were travelling on a bike on February 15 when a group of local youth stopped them. “Chanting slogans against Kashmiris, the mob caught hold of us and beat us. They said every Kashmiri is a terrorist and need to be killed,” he said. “After beating us mercilessly, we were allowed to go. Kashmiris students were threatened with death if don’t leave,” he said.
Due to the attacks and threats, majority of Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand decided to return home. Jamshed and his friends left for Chandigarh on February 17. “After reaching Chandigarh, we felt safe in the company of Sikhs. From Chandigarh, we left for the Valley and are at present stuck in Jammu as the highway is closed,” he said.
After the killing of 40 CRPF men in a militant attack in Pulwama, Kashmiri students and businessmen were assaulted in Dehradun, Haryana, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Maharashtra and other places in the country. At least 21 Kashmiri students have been suspended, rusticated, terminated or arrested so far.
Another Kashmiri student Muzaffar Ahmad, who is doing MSc Geology from BIFT Dehradun, said activists of Bajrang Dal and VHP barged into the college and assaulted them. “Kashmiri students were warned to leave or get killed,” he said. “Our primary concern was our safety. Our career has taken a back stage for now,” Muzaffar said.
Saima Shah, who was also studying in BIFT Dehradun, said they feared for their lives after the attacks on Kashmiri students in Dehradun. “We travelled to Chandigarh, where KhalsaAid (a Sikh group) provided us with vehicles to Srinagar,” she said.
“We will talk to college authorities after some time and decide whether to join the college to continue our studies.”
A Kashmiri student, who was studying at MMU University in Ambala, Haryana, said some Kashmiri students of the college living as paying guests were attacked by locals after the Pulwama attack. “Kashmiri students were labelled as traitors and terrorists and warned of death in case they don’t leave,” said the student.
Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir chairman G N War said that about 3,000 students have returned to the Valley after the assaults. Most Kashmiri students, who have returned, said they have no option but to go back to their colleges as they don’t want their careers to be ruined.
Punjab sets up helpline
The Punjab Police has set up an exclusive desk for redressal of complaints of Kashmiris facing harassment in the state. A toll free number 181 has been set up. Victims can call 181 or send an SMS or Whatsapp message to 76961-81181. They can also fax their complaint on 0172-6626181 and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Punjab Police has designated Surjeet Singh, DIG (Law & Order), as the nodal officer for addressing the complaints.
Three students booked in Uttar Pradesh
Bareilly (UP): Three Kashmiri girl students of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) have been booked for allegedly forwarding controversial comments, along with their own remarks, against the Indian Army on an instant messaging app following the Pulwama terror strike, police said on Saturday. According to an official, after the February 14 attack, these girls allegedly made some adverse and objectionable comments on a WhatsApp group in which other students were also members. IVRI Director R K Singh said after the matter came to light, the institute conducted a probe, following which the fellowship and scholarship of two students were blocked while the name of the third, who had enrolled for masters and was absent since December, 2018, was struck off.