Students at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar on Wednesday alleged police harassment and accused the college administration of threatening them following last week’s clashes between local and outstation students.
“The director called a meeting with students; there he threatened us and said that if you rake this issue more, we will fail you and delay your degrees. At this time, we students got to know about the media presence at the gate of the institution. So, we went to interact with them but were stopped at the gate of the college and then the police baton-charged us. No one was speared; girls, handicapped, all were beaten by the police,” one of the students alleged.
“No one is questioning those who raised anti-national slogans, instead we are facing atrocities of the local police and collage administration,” another student said.
The unrest follows last week’s clashes among students during the World Twenty20 semi-final match played between India and West Indies. India had lost the match, forcing the team out of the tournament.
Some engineering students from outside the state claimed Kashmiri students had chanted anti-India slogans and burst firecrackers after India’s defeat.
The NIT administration suspended classes and shut the campus down till Tuesday to prevent the situation from escalating, but students expressed a sense of insecurity and wanted to leave campus.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was deployed inside the campus following the confrontation as protesting students accused the state police of using ‘excessive’ force against them.
Adding to the tension, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday threatened a nationwide stir if security was not provided to non-Kashmiri students who were allegedly attacked.
State VHP president Leela Karan Sharma, who was also the face of 2008 Amarnath land row in Jammu, said police action against students for waiving an Indian flag and raising ‘nationalistic’ slogans was unheard of.
“We warn of a nationwide repercussion in case the adequate steps to restore the honour of students are not taken. The VHP will send its own fact finding team of office bearers to NIT Srinagar to meet the victims and students of NIT,” Sharma said as the VHP demanded that paramilitary forces be deployed to ensure security.
Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh said there was a ‘mild’ lathicharge when students tried to reach the main gate of the campus. Singh also spoke to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti about the incident.
NIT trended on social media as posts, videos and pictures of the clashes, including police firing tear gas shells at the students’ hostel, did the rounds. A Facebook page ‘Save the students of NIT Srinagar’ was created while the hashtag #Jihad on NIT Student was tweeted out frequently.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also took to Twitter to comment on the situation, urging the NIT administration to find other means of dealing with the situation.
“Two companies of CRPF in a campus is not normal by any stretch of imagination. Requires tact not use of force,” Abdullah posted.
With inputs from agencies