The fracas over a cricket match between local and non-Kashmir students at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, has snowballed into a major issue. The outstation students are insisting the campus be shifted out from the Valley, preferably to Jammu.
A team of officials from the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) visited the campus on Wednesday, a day after the campus witnessed fresh violence as non-local students clashed with the police.
The team included Sanjeev Sharma, director (technical education) in the HRD ministry, deputy director finance Fazal Mehmood and chairman of the board of governors of NIT, MJ Zarabi.
The NIT campus was garrisoned after Tuesday’s violence; police were deployed in strength, besides two companies of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Union home minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to the newly-installed chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, and asked her to look into the issue.
Many political parties have also condemned the violence and demanded the safety of students, some particularly speaking out for the non-locals. The Valley-based separatists, on the other hand, warned of consequences if the issue persisted. They alleged involvement of “state machinery” in “use of force against the Kashmiri students”.
A student who was part of the delegation of non-local students that met the MHRD delegation told HT that all their demands including the one to shift the campus were heard.
Classes had remained suspended for days last week as groups of students clashed after many Kashmiri people, as always, celebrated India’s defeat to West Indies in the World T20 cricket match. This irked the non-locals, but what happened later has since remained mired in allegations and counter-allegations.
But sources say the tussle between students turned into the non-locals’ angst against the administration and the police.
For Tuesday’s violence, the non-local students blamed the police, saying they were only trying to move out of the campus when they were baton charged. The police maintain they “chased the mob of students” after the students assaulted some officers.
Meanwhile, a few classes were conducted on the campus on Wednesday, but sources said attendance was sparse.
Fayaz Ahmad Mir, NIT registrar, told HT: “The situation in the campus is stable now.”
However, relatives and even parents of students staying in hostels were not allowed to enter the campus and were restricted to the office of the security chief of institute near the main gate. Only students, staff members and security personnel were allowed inside.
Non-Kashmiri hostel dwellers, on the other hand, did not venture out of the campus.
NIT Srinagar, established as a Regional Engineering College in 1960, was made an NIT in 2003. It is one of the top engineering institutes in the state.
Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake near the famous Hazratbal shrine, the institute offers undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses in technology and sciences.
Of the total 2400-odd students in undergraduate courses, 50% come from the state quota and the rest from the national quota. But in the post-graduate courses, admissions are open and based on scores in entrance test.
Tussle turns into social media trend
Social media was abuzz with #NITSrinagar and #Srinagar being the top Twitter trend throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
On Twitter, the nationalism debate was brought into the fold, with many tweeting how “students were attacked for raising the national flag” and celebrities like Anupam Kher congratulating students and asking them to keep calm.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah too joined the Twitter discussion on NIT Srinagar, and wrote on Wednesday, “Rushing in a team from HRD ministry coupled with the CRPF replacing J&K police speaks volumes about Delhi’s confidence in Mehbooba Mufti”.
On Facebook, many students posted their comments, photos and videos of how students were attacked by police on Tuesday night.
Moreover, pages like ‘Save NIT Srinagar Students’ have come up on Facebook on which photos and videos of the injured students are being posted regularly.
Demands by outstation students
Shift non-Kashmiri students to NITs in their own home states
J&K NIT be shifted, preferably to Jammu
Action/investigation regarding administration staff and faculty members, who had earlier allegedly threatened non-Kashmiri students
Police role in Tuesday’s lathicharge be looked into.