The apex students’ association of Jammu and Kashmir has asked state governments to ‘blacklist’ colleges with a history of alleged hate crimes against students from the Valley, and said they have drawn up a list of such institutions spreading “bigotry and hate”.
The demand by the J&K Students’ Association comes in the backdrop of alleged incidents of intimidation and attacks on students from Kashmir in different states following Pakistan’s win over India in the ongoing T20 World Cup.
“We are coordinating with the state governments in Punjab, Karnataka, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh Uttarakhand and other sides, where Kashmiri students are studying presently,” JKSA spokesperson Nasir Khuehami said on Friday.
“We have prepared a full list of such colleges and will forward it to the government to blacklist all those colleges which spread bigotry, hate and harass Kashmiri students unnecessarily and fail to give them protection and safety,” he added.
He said that Kashmiri students are being harassed, intimidated, assaulted and police cases filed against “happenings beyond their control”. A “negative portrayal” of Kashmiri students by a section of media is also playing havoc with the lives of Kashmiri students. “The primary victims of the negative portrayal have been the students studying in various states of the country,” he said.
In his recent three-day visit to Kashmir, Union home minister Amit Shah had wooed the Kashmiri youth and interacted with thousands of them through video conferencing as well as physical meetings.
An estimated 5,000 students from Kashmir avail financial aid under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme to enroll in different colleges across the country. Hundreds of others get admissions on their own.
Davood Ahmad, another JKSA office-bearer, said many institutions in different states claim high discipline and zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of region and religion but these claims have fallen proved to be hoax when it comes to owing the Kashmiri students.
“Inside many institutions, at times students are being assaulted on the basis of identity, which is a sad story of identity discrimination,” he said.
“Students studying in different institutions in the country have become soft targets. The image of ‘bad Kashmiri’ is orchestrated by a section of the media and replicated on the ground by these anti-social elements,” he added.
The Modi government had increased the number of scholarships under PMSS to 5,000 to the earlier number of 1,000 introduced by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 under a Rs 1,200-crore package for students to study medical, engineering and other courses in colleges across the country. To get the scholarship, a student’s family income must be Rs. 6.00 lakh or below annually.
In 2016, the home ministry established a 24-hour grievance redressal helpline for Kashmiris, especially students. The ministry also posted a nodal officer, who has the responsibility to receive complaints from Kashmiri students and coordinate with states for early disposal of such cases.
The helpline was established after ruling and opposition political parties raised the issue of harassment of Kashmiri youths in various parts of the country with then Union home minister Rajnath Singh visited Srinagar in 2016.
During the 2016 unrest in the Valley, reports of harassment of Kashmiri youths were received from states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
In May 2014, a group of Kashmiri students at Noida International University (NIU) were allegedly forced to chant anti-Pakistan slogans by a group of drunken students. After a strong reaction from the then chief minister Omar Abdullah, the NIU moved over 100 Kashmiri students staying to a safe house. “Let’s beat patriotism into Kashmiri students, why don’t we. Great way to remove any fear or sense of alienation among Kashmiris. Thugs!!!,” Omar had tweeted.
In March 2018, in Meerut’s Swami Vivekananda Subharti University (SVSU) expelled 54 students from Jammu and Kashmir for allegedly cheering for Pakistan while watching a cricket match. The students had got admission in the SVSU under PMSS.
After the 2019 Pulwama attack, several cases of harassment of Kashmiri students were reported across India. In one case, Kashmiri students at a Dehradun hostel were forced to lock themselves up to escape a hostile mob that had gathered outside. They were evacuated by the district administration later.