Non-Kashmiri students returned to the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar that reopened on Monday after a week, following days of clashes and protests on campus earlier this month. Academic activities resumed after students, college administration and government officials came to a consensus on a list of demands.
Trouble started on campus after clashes erupted when Kashmiri students celebrated India’s loss against West Indies in the Twenty20 World Cup, irking the non-local students. Matters snowballed when students claimed of police brutality during a peaceful protest by non-local students and police stationed on campus on April 5. Police however a released a video showing these students vandalising campus property.
A delegation of the protesting students, NIT-Srinagar director Rajat Gupta and officials from the human resource development (HRD) ministry met in New Delhi last week where a list of demands were agreed on, including the reconstitution of a fact-finding committee with “external members”, setting up of a students’ council and improvement of infrastructure facilities.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, NIT registrar, FA Mir said, “College has reopened. Everything is normal now. Non-Kashmiri students who had gone home have returned yesterday and will be joining classes from today.”
“This was scheduled in the calendar. Each semester we have a few days for sports and activities,” Mir added.
Most non-Kashmiri students – around 1,000 of whom reportedly left campus after clashes snowballed into a major national controversy – returned by Sunday, a non-Kashmiri student told HT.
“The campus seems normal now. We are back after the extra-curricular activities break. There are a few police officers here and there, but nothing like their presence during the time of the crisis,” a final year undergraduate student from Uttar Pradesh said.
Other students that HT spoke to said the overall atmosphere was back to normal, with academics pressing on everyone’s minds and Kashmiri and non-local students interacting with each other.
“Most of the non-Kashmiri students are back. I have spoken to a few of my non-Kashmiri batch mates, and everyone is glad that things are normal once again,” a local student said as he hurried to class.
Representatives of non-Kashmiri students had initially presented a list of demands to a panel sent by the HRD ministry to check on the matter, including shifting the campus out of Kashmir. However, the government rejected these.
As for the demand to hoist the Indian national flag on campus, which also became a flashpoint between local and non-local students, no decision has been taken.
“Most of their [the protesting non-Kashmiri students] demands have been met and we are actively addressing their grievances. Their apprehensions are being taken care of. But I don’t know about any decisions taken on the flag issue,” Mir said.