Why was NIT Srinagar Shut Down?
There was a major brawl between two groups of Students in NIT Srinagar. To control the situation, officials closed the institute’s entrance and did not allow anyone to enter. The Police were called in, after efforts by NIT officials to control the situation and disperse the crowd proved to be futile. The police had to resort to lathicharge and teargas to control the crowd. Students have also been asked to vacate the Hostel.
What led to the violence in the NIT Srinagar?
The Non-Kashmiri Students Version: After India lost the World T20 semi-final to West Indies on Thursday, some Kashmiri students chanted anti-India slogans and burst firecrackers. They even tried to thrash students from other states who were watching the match in their hostel rooms. According to one student “Even on Friday, a group of students assembled on the campus and raised anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans. Many outsiders also joined the protests”.
The Kashmiri Student Version: According to local students, the violence was initiated by students from other states on Friday. According to the version of one Kashmiri student “When Kashmiris studying in the college were returning from Friday prayers, a crowd of students confronted them. They were waving the Tricolor and chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and anti-Pakistan slogans. Some of them also indulged in violence, which led to a scuffle breaking out, in which a teacher and some students received minor injuries”
The reaction of the media has been troubling me. The Media reports flooded the internet and our tele-screens when protests broke out in JNU and Jadavpur University. A certain Kanhaiya was deified and pitted directly against Modi and the leftists in India went ahead and declared the entire episode as emergency 2.0. Let us for the time being assume that the Non-Kashmiris raised Pro India Slogan and waved the tricolor. It is justified by two basic conditions:
1. The Freedom of Speech: So students can openly raise Pro-Pakistan slogans in the national capital but when a group of passionate young engineering students think of extolling their motherland, it becomes a social evil of sorts, big enough to spark a major scuffle. And the media that lionized the aged student leader for his chutzpah is mum about the NIT Srinagar issue. This is a frightening trend.
2. Kashmir is still in India and will always be: Article 370 of the Indian Constitution deals with the special status given to the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It provides a fairly high degree of autonomy to the state, enables the state to have its own constitution and the state to give some special privileges to its “permanent residents” but at no juncture, it supports secession or anti-nationalism. Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always be. An Indian student wherever he is from, is free to chant pro India slogans. There are no rules that prohibit him from doing so. If it burns the hearts of some, well they should do some soul-searching.
The police action (which has been confirmed by a volley of FB and Twitter Messages) on Non-Local students was most unfortunate. The College Administration must be hauled over the coals for this gruesome action inside NIT Srinagar. Also the way Non-Kashmiri Students were driven out of Hostels was disastrous. Their safety and well-being is at stake. What if the locals attack them when they are out of the premises of NIT Srinagar?
The National Institutes of Technology, of which NIT Srinagar is a part of, are a group of public engineering colleges of India which have been declared by Act of Parliament as institutions of national importance. They were founded to promote regional diversity and multi-cultural understanding in India. If the students of an institution of national importance cannot respect their nation, they don’t deserve to be a part of it in the first place.
Now let me come to the most unfortunate part of the episode. BJP who is currently in partnership with Mehbooba Mufti led PDP has also chosen to stay mum. I am not aware of the background actions that they have initiated/taken but to the uninitiated it appears, that they have decided to maintain a safe distance from the NIT Srinagar issue. Sad indeed.