Varsity expels Kashmiri student after ‘anti-national’ social media posts
A 19-year-old woman student from the state of Jammu and Kashmir was dismissed from a university in Gurugram on Tuesday, after she allegedly made a few posts on social media in connection to the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 49 CRPF personnel dead, police said. Pakistan-base terrrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The university has called the posts “anti-national” in the rustication order, however, no police case was filed in the matter.
The decision to dismiss Sadaf Rafiq Zaffar came within one-and-a-half hours after more than 500 students started protesting inside SGT University in Budhera, demanding her dismissal, said Rajneesh Yadav, public relations officer of the university. “The disciplinary committee met for 15 to 20 minutes after the protests began around 9am Tuesday and decided to dismiss the student,” Yadav said, adding that the varsity, which has around 6,000 students, has not filed a police complaint.
The protest started from 9am and continued till 10.30am and there was no violence, Yadav said, adding that the decision to dismiss the student was taken around 10.30am. The students reportedly disbursed and went to their classes after they got news of the dismissal around 10.45am.
Zaffar, a second year student in the varsity’s undergraduate programme, was asked to leave the college hostel on Tuesday afternoon.
A university poster inside a college on the campus with Zaffar’s face on it was pulled down by the university staff during the protest. The poster was later burnt by the protesting group, as teachers and police watched.
“Students were angry and throwing stones at the girl’s poster. Faculty thought that someone may get injured in the stone pelting and asked a staff member to remove the poster,” the PRO said. He added that the protesting students snatched the poster and burnt it. “We tried to stop them, but it was very difficult to control them,” he said.
Officials at Budhera police post, which can be accessed from inside the university, said that they got a call about the protest around 8.30am Tuesday and that there was enough police deployment. Police were yet to receive any formal complaint till late on Tuesday.
Another poster of a Kashmiri student, next to the expelled student’s, was also removed by a university staff. In multiple videos of the protest shot by students and accessed by HT, the crowd can also be seen shouting anti-Pakistan slogans.
When reached out to, Zaffar said she did not want to comment on the issue. But another student of Kashmiri descent said the matter escalated after Zaffar had an argument with her classmates last week.
“After the Pulwama attack, her classmates started sharing anti-Kashmiri posts on WhatsApp. There was a conversation between her and others, and she asked them to not share anti-Kashmiri posts. She told them that we should be anti-Pakistan and not anti-Kashmiri. Her posts on February 16 and 17 were in this regard,” said the student, who did not wish to be identified.
How the news spread
Sumit Chauhan, 21, a third-year engineering student was one of the organisers of the protest. At the university grounds on Tuesday evening, he said, “Around 3pm Monday, a student from her department came and showed me the posts. I’m a local resident, I told other students about it and we decided to meet at the college the following morning.”
Chauhan put up multiple WhatsApp messages about the posts made by the expelled student and asked students to assembly near Neelgiri Hostel, inside the campus. “The news spread like fire by (Monday) night. If you are against the Army, you are against the country,” Chauhan said as he showed multiple messages on his WhatsApp.
About a dozen students HT spoke to also said that they knew about the protest by Monday night. “We also received two to three messages about the posts by the girl, but we did not think it would become this big,” the PRO said.