A Kashmiri student was thrashed in Bhopal on Monday and assailants beat up a Hyderabad research scholar after allegedly mistaking him to be from the Valley, the latest in a string of recent attacks on students from the region.
In Hyderabad, a group of 20-25 Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members attacked 25-year-old Amol Singh who was on his way back after a protest against alleged police atrocities in Kashmir late on Saturday, sources said. He is pursuing an MPhil degree at the University of Hyderabad.
“They knocked me down and started punching on my face and stomach and hitting on my knees. My friends and I tried to run away into the hostel and they chased us,” Singh said.
He said the ABVP activists apparently mistook him for his senior Bilal , who was from Kashmir, because of a beard and similar complexion.
In Bhopal, doctoral student Umar Rashid was allegedly attacked by two people inside the campus of the Barakatullah University after he told them he hailed from Kashmir’s Pampore.
“When they started beating me, I held my ears seeking forgiveness just to save myself but they thrashed me brutally in front of security guards,” said Rashid.
“One of them said we were responsible for the poor condition of Kashmir.”
The incidents follow week-long violence in Kashmir following the death of top insurgent Burhan Wani. Tens of thousands of people have clashed with security forces with 41 people dead.
The government has clamped prohibitory orders in the Valley, imposed a gag on newspapers and local media and snapped internet services.
The violence has triggered sharp reaction from elsewhere in India with several protests against the allegations of human rights violations by state forces held in Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru and elsewhere.
In April, Kashmiri students in Jodhpur were beaten up after a flare-up over nationalism in NIT-Srinagar. The nationwide controversy over demands of a beef ban also triggered attacks on Kashmiris. HT wrote in April that 30 attacks on Kashmiri students have been reported since 2013.
In Hyderabad, other students from Singh’s hostel alleged that the guards witnessed the alleged attack but didn’t intervene. “The ABVP students barged into the hostel saying: Where is Bilal? We will teach a lesson to that anti-national,” said Munna, who stays in the same hostel.
Bilal finished his PhD and left for Kashmir a couple of months ago. He used to be active in campus politics and was vocal about the plight of Kashmiri Muslims.
“That is why ABVP was angry and in the darkness, they mistook me as Bilal,” said Singh, a Sikh man from a farming family in Patiala.
But ABVP leader N Sushil Kumar rejected the allegations and said Singh and his friends attacked the ABVP students who were taking out a bike rally in protest against violence in Kashmir.
In Bhopal, Kashmiri students demanded safety and alleged the university administration didn’t help Rashid.
“We want security. We came to Bhopal as we feel safe here but this incident has worried us,” said another student Irfan Rashid.