Danish (name changed), a PhD student from south Kashmir’s Anantnag district in Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been changing hostels since February 9, when the row over the ‘anti-national’ event erupted.
Thirty-two-year-old Danish had nothing to do with the event organised by Left-leaning organisations, nor did he lead any of the protests that followed. But he and about 30-35 other students from the Valley are having sleepless nights fearing a possible ‘witch-hunt’. Most of these students have gone into hiding, reportedly because of their Kashmiri origin.
“Since the day the controversy erupted, there has been a sense of fear among students from Kashmir, more so as the event witnessed pro-freedom slogans for Kashmir,” he said.
All these days, the Kashmiri students have been missing from their hostels fearing a raid. While some have changed hostels on the campus, others are putting up with their friends in other parts of Delhi.
“I have not entered the campus due to fear. I apprehend they might have kept all students from Kashmir under strict surveillance,” said another student from Economics department who has shifted to a friend’s place.
The students said, though five people participated in last week’s pro-Azadi demonstration on the campus, no one from Kashmir was among the organisers.
Apart from the Afzal Guru and azadi aspect, the JNU row has another Kashmir connect — Shehla Rashid Shora — the vice-president of JNU Students’ Union, who hails from Srinagar. She has become a prominent voice of the ongoing agitation at JNU through her eloquent speeches.
The Kashmiri students also alleged that they have been facing ‘discrimination’ from general students, especially after the arrest of JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar.
“An All India Students’ Federation poster being circulated reads that actual anti-nationals are roaming around freely while people like Kanhaiya Kumar are behind bars,” a student said.
Though police have not rounded up any Kashmiri student so far, some profiling exercise is being done according to sources.
In coordination with law agencies in the Valley, the Home Ministry has started identifying people who allegedly shouted slogans in favour of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat on February 9.
“They have approached my family in Ganderbal district and tried to find out by background,” a PhD student of JNU said.
Sources also pointed out that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has especially directed Delhi Police to avoid detaining any Kashmiri student over the row, apparently because of the ongoing alliance talks between the BJP and PDP to form the government in J&K.