Deploying central forces at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar will not result in the alienation of Kashmiri youth, the government said on Tuesday.
“Deployment of central forces was not a suo motu decision of the central government. It was done only after the students and the NIT administration made a demand (in this regard). Even Jammu and Kashmir police are outside the campus. So I don’t think there will be any alienation,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
He was responding to supplementary queries on the issue from members including Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress) and Harish Meena of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
BJP member Meena said the violence in NIT Srinagar was “not primarily” due to a cricket match as similar trouble was also seen in a Dausa college, where there were only 20 Kashmiri students among 1,300 students.
“It is more than cricket,” he said and alleged that a “Bhaijaan from Dubai” controls lot of things happening with cricket in the region.
In a brief intervention, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said things have been brought under control on the campus after quick response both by the state government and the Centre.
“Even non-local students who wanted to go back to their homes were provided with assistance and facilities. But the good development is that these students are coming back,” Rajnath Singh said, adding that even those who could not appear for exams earlier due to violence will now be able to appear for the tests from May 26 to May 29.
Owaisi took strong exception to the remarks from Congress member and former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia that people have lost faith in Jammu and Kashmir Police.
“I am shocked at the remarks from the Congress member,” he said, and reminded the house that more than 3,000 Kashmiri police personnel have sacrificed their lives fighting militancy in the state.
“Don’t demean Jammu and Kashmir Police,” he said.
The MIM leader wanted the minister to clarify -- now that the BJP is sharing power with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state -- whether it can make any announcement on withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) at least from Srinagar and its vicinity and remove military bunkers in the summer capital of the state.
He said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) cannot bring “emotional and physical security” to the campus and rather there would be alienation of the local youth from the mainstream.
There was also exchange of words between Scindia and BJP member R.K. Singh.
Rijiju said even the Centre was keen that that state police should be able to control things. “It is not only in J&K, but everywhere that the central forces are deployed only to assist the state police,” he said.
Congress member Scindia wondered how the BJP leaders, who make “tall claims on nationalism,” could tolerate a situation where students raising ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogans were lathi-charged by the police.
Rijiju said the government has taken adequate steps and that even the state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Simmering tension on the NIT campus in Srinagar boiled over following clashes between Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students after the locals celebrated the West Indies’ win over the Indian cricket team in a World T-20 semi-final match on March 31.