Muslim students from Kashmir are at the receiving end of a campaign in Madhya Pradesh unleashed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student organisation affiliated to the ruling BJP.
Kashmiri Muslims are a security concern, they associate with the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and are making Bhopal a hub of anti-national activity, says ABVP.
The bone of contention is a 1% quota for Kashmiri migrants, which the ABVP insists should mean only Kashmiri Pandits.
“There have been illegal activities, with a lot of Kashmiri Muslims taking admission under the 1% quota which is meant for Kashmiri Vistapith (Pandits),” said Vishnu Dutt Sharma, zonal general secretary, ABVP. “Their police verification should be tighter.”
The organisation is demanding stricter scrutiny of Kashmiri Muslim students and restricting their access to education.
Bhopal has been a favoured destination for Kashmiri students for its easy train connectivity, low cost of living and friendly environment.
“We choose Bhopal because education is cheaper than in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and Chennai and can be easily afforded by students who come from small villages in the Valley,” said Imtiaz, a student of Barkatullah University.
The university authorities, however, disagree.
“Any Kashmiri who is a migrant, whether or not a Kashmiri pandit, can get admission under the 1% quota reserved for them,” said Sanjay Tiwari, registrar, Barkatullah University. “Last year there had been a request from the MP students to make provisions so they could be given preference over students from other states.”
Reacting to the ABVP stance, J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah recently tweeted: “Disgraceful: Hindutva groups campaign to keep Kashmiri students out of Madhya Pradesh.”
“They always say Kashmir is ours, but they should remember that Kashmiris are also ours. Integrating Kashmir does not just mean the land but the people also,” Aligarh-based historian Shireen Moosvi told HT.