NIT students scramble to leave Srinagar’s NIT, official denies govt ordered closure

The students left NIT following a notice by the institute’s administration Friday evening saying classes were being suspended till further orders.
Tourists head for buses to take them out of Srinagar on Saturday.(Waseem Andrabi/HT PHOTO)
Tourists head for buses to take them out of Srinagar on Saturday.(Waseem Andrabi/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 03, 2019 03:15 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Srinagar | ByMir Ehsan

The evacuation of non-Kashmiri students from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar on Saturday following a notice by the institute’s administration Friday evening saying classes were being suspended till further orders, has sparked a controversy with the district administration denying that it had ordered a closure.

“The above notice stands issued in accordance with instructions received from the district administration, Srinagar,” the NIT notice had said.

The notice sparked an exodus on Saturday morning with hundreds of NIT students scrambling to catch buses to take them out of the valley. Around 800 students are enrolled in the NIT and half of them are from different states of the country.

An official at the NIT said that they were asked by the administration that students should be sent home. “The buses were arranged by the administration. We don’t know why this decision has been taken.’’

Students waited since early morning for the buses. “We were informed to leave the Valley. Now we are waiting for the buses,” said a student from Uttar Pradesh.

Also read: ‘Nobody knows what is happening’: Omar Abdullah after meeting J-K guv

But later Saturday morning, Srinagar’s deputy commissioner Shahid Choudhary said the administration did not ask the NIT to close. “We asked them to take precautions. The NIT has withdrawn its order from the website.” He said some 900 school in Srinagar are open. “Colleges are closed for summer vacations since August 1.”

The NIT notice suspending classes and evacuating non-Kashmiri students from the campus came hours after the government asked Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave Valley in the wake of terror threat.

The government advisory also triggered a rush of outbound passengers from Srinagar. Following Friday’s advisory, the administration was making arrangements to ferry tourists outside the Valley in buses and by air. Dozens of tourists and yatris were waiting outside the tourist reception centre in Srinagar looking for means of transport to leave the Valley. Officials said that government has also arranged buses to move tourists to the Srinagar airport and Jammu. Many tourists paid extra money for air tickets to fly out of Kashmir.

Ravi Khanna from Rajasthan who had arrived in Valley two days ago had to cut short his visit after the government’s advisory on Friday. “Soon after the advisory was issued I decided to leave the Valley. I got air ticket on a higher price. Apparently situation looks normal but we can’t ignore the advisory.”

A hotelier in Srinagar’s old city told Hindustan Times that 10 tourists left his hotel early in the morning. “They (tourists) left for Jammu. The police also asked us to inform tourists to leave Kashmir as there is threat to them,” he said.

Also read: Decoded: Why the government decided to curtail the Amarnath yatra

The administration’s evacuation notice for outsiders has riled locals, including Srinagar’s mayor Junaid Azim Mattu.

“Tourists being asked to vacate houseboats in Dal Lake, Yatris asked to leave, non-local students being evacuated from NIT, Srinagar —- what “security advisory” could possibly merit this mass evacuation of everyone but local Kashmiris? How is this being passed as normal?’’ Mattu said.

On Friday Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra said the advisory was issued in the wake of threat to Amarnath yatra. “There was input about serious threat to the yatra so advisory was issued to yatris many of whom are also tourists. All the top officials from the government including Governor Satya Pal Malik have already made it clear that there is nothing to panic. We are here to serve and secure our people and we will do it. We issued advisory only because tourists and yatris are non-locals and they don’t know the exact routes in case of any exigency.’’

The Amarnath yatra was scheduled to end on August 15.

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