Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to state governments on Sunday to watch over students from Jammu and Kashmir studying outside their state in the backdrop of violence against them.
His appeal came after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti flagged at a Niti Aayog governing council meeting the issue of safety of Kashmiri students at colleges and institutes in different states.
Modi “seconded her suggestion that states should take interest in Kashmiri students and urged the state governments to reach out to them from time to time,” a government statement said.
Chief minister Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) shares power in the state with the BJP, is likely to meet the Prime Minister on Monday to discuss the situation after violence escalated again during the bypoll to the Srinagar parliamentary seat on April 9.
Kashmir Valley plunged into violence as mobs of youngsters targeted security forces with stones and petrol bombs, wounding hundreds of soldiers. Many protesters have been killed too in growing clashes between soldiers and “stone-pelters”.
Incidents of soldiers being targeted by stone-throwers have upset people outside the strife-torn border state.
On April 19, about six Kashmiri students in Chittorgarh’s Mewar University were allegedly called terrorists and assaulted by locals. The private university in Rajasthan has around 500 students from the northern state.
In another incident last week, a fringe right-wing outfit called Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena put up banners in Meerut, asking “stone-pelting Kashmiris” to leave the state.
The incidents prompted the Union home ministry to send advisories to the state governments to protect Kashmiris in their states.
The PM backed Mufti’s suggestions that states should organise programmes in Jammu and Kashmir to build awareness and bridge cultural gaps.
Kashmir has been intensely restive since the killing of a popular militant leader, Burhan Wani, last summer. The death triggered a long unrest in which more than 80 people were killed and hundreds wounded in clashes with security forces.
The incidents prompted the BJP to send its national general secretary, Ram Madhav, for a meeting with the PDP leadership last week.
But his alleged comments that “everything is fair in love and war” have drawn flak from the PDP, with education minister Altaf Bukhari calling the statement indefensible.
“Is it a war declared against Kashmiris who despite all odds cast their votes reaffirming their belief in democracy? Or it is a war declared to satiate the sanguine electoral interests of a particular political party in the country?” he asked.
Bhukari, refused to meet Madhav in protest, said the sole solution to the current unrest could be a comprehensive dialogue.
“You can’t be indifferent and think that the situation will improve. There is no other way; the only solution is talking to Kashmiri people.”
Voices of dissent in the PDP have been increasing lately as its workers and leaders feel the leadership is showing no sympathy to the people, its core constituency, sources said.
“At least (former chief minister) Omar Abdullah would express grief, oppose killings and say stones don’t deserve bullets. But she (Mufti) is not showing sympathy,” a PDP leader said.
(With inputs from Toufiq Rashid in Srinagar)