A group of Kashmiri students was assaulted in Jodhpur’s Vyas Dental College on Thursday evening in an alleged backlash against the police attack on ‘non-local’ boys studying at Srinagar’s National Institute of Technology (NIT) three days ago.
A mob of 30 people armed with knives, iron rods and sticks attacked the Kashmiri students at the annual cultural event of the private college, some of the victims in Jodhpur said on Friday.
“Local students and outsiders, who had their face covered, chanted “Pakistan Murdabad” slogans and looked for Kashmiri students at the function. They beat up every Kashmiri they found,” one of the students said.
Some students took refuge in their hostel but they were allegedly assaulted and their belongings thrown out of their rooms. Hostel furniture was reportedly damaged in the violence.
“They barged into our hostel rooms, shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. They attacked us with iron rods, sticks and knives, and threatened to kill us, saying they will take revenge for what happened in NIT Srinagar,” a student said.
“We fear for our lives. They will attack us again if we go out.”
The SHO of Kudi Bhagtasni area, Anand Singh, assured action against the alleged attackers and protection to the Kashmiri students. “Yes, the students were beaten up and we have identified the culprits. I talked to the families of some of the Kashmiri students. We have stationed police constables inside the college,” he said.
But the students alleged that the threats were continuing. “How can we get threats inside our hostels if police were deployed on the campus? Police and college authorities are not stopping people from attacking us,” one of them said.
Officials of the college, where more than 100 Kashmiri students study, dismissed the allegations and said “these are mere rumours”.
The institute’s director, Manish Vyas, said the students denied any such incident happened on the campus when police spoke to them on Thursday evening.
“Some local students and ABVP workers shouted Bharat Mata Ki Jai and took photos. Besides that nothing happened,” he said.
The NIT Srinagar incident ignited a debate on nationalism after local boys clashed with their non-Kashmiri counterparts, who had objected to celebrations over India’s loss to West Indies in the World T20 semifinal on March 31. The non-Kashmiri students alleged that the state police assaulted them on the campus, a charge the technical institute’s administration denied.
The cricket wedge was evident in Chittorgarh’s Mewar University too, where nine Kashmiri students were suspended for campus clashes over the India-West Indies match.
Ripples were felt in Suresh Gyan Vihar University in Jaipur, where a Kashmiri BTech student said the row had created a negative perception about Kashmiris. “Every J&K student is painted with the same brush …J&K students otherwise enjoy an amicable relationship with students of other states.”
The higher education commissioner of Madhya Pradesh has asked colleges to ensure safety of Kashmiri students as about 300 students of the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology in Bhopal took out a march in support of NIT Srinagar’s non-Kashmiri students.
(With inputs from HTC Jaipur, Jammu, Indore, Bhopal, Lucknow, Karnal)