Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah urged the West Bengal government on Tuesday to look into reports that Kolkata Police was asking all city colleges to furnish details of Kashmiri students.
“Dear @MamataOfficial can you please look in to this police order? Info gathering shouldn’t become harassment,” Abdullah tweeted following the police action that many said unfairly targeted Kashmiri students.
“Why are these students being singled out? cc @quizderek Police ask Kolkata colleges to give details of J&K students.”
The tweets came after an Indian Express report that said the police notices were sent to colleges in the last week of February, when Kolkata was rocked by protests supporting Jawaharlal Nehru University students facing sedition charges for allegedly shouting “anti-national” slogans.
The charges and the subsequent arrests of JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattarcharya ignited a nationwide debate on free speech and campus protests, including in Kolkata.
A controversial march by Jadavpur University students allegedly featured slogans calling for Kashmiri freedom and celebrating 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
The police note, reproduced by the Indian Express, was addressed to the principal of the college and read, “Please let me know that students, whose residential addresses is under the State of Jammu & Kashmir, studies in your Institution for onwards transmission to the Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block, New Delhi, Govt. of India.”
The newspaper quoted senior police officials as saying that the request for the details had come from central intelligence agencies.
“It’s an attempt to create dossiers on J&K students so that we can monitor their activities,” a top police officer told the Indian Express. “This is really something new we are doing for the first time.”