New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court’s direction to Chief Secretaries and police chiefs of states and union territories to take prompt action to prevent threats, assaults, intimidation and boycott of Kashmiris, especially students, after the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing is expected to provide them relief, particularly in the northern states.
The court also issued notice to the Centre and 11 states on a public suit by advocate Tariq Adeeb that focussed attention on the incidents, including Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy’s widely condemned call to boycott Kashmiris in the aftermath of the terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy.
“The Supreme Court direction for safety of Kashmiri students is a welcome decision. What now needs to be done is that all those involved in attacks on our children be brought to justice,” Noor Muhammad, a retired bank officer, told IANS in Srinagar.
“The Supreme Court order has come as a big relief for all of us. Our children went outside the state to pursue their studies proving that their first priority is education,” he said. “Pushing these innocent children to the wall does not suit anyone other than those who want to alienate Kashmiris further.”
“Violence against children speaks of a mindset in which no moderate and right thinking person has any space,” said Ghulam Nabi, a parent living in Srinagar’s old quarters.
Most incidents of violence have been blamed on rightwing Hindu activists. But despite the fear the stray attacks have created, fortunately leading to no death, thousands of Kashmiris continue to live amid the rest of the population across the country, but with a tinge of fear.
The most recent assault occurred in Yavatmal in Maharashtra when Kashmiri students of Dayabhai Patel College of Physical Education were pounced upon in Waghapur Road area on Wednesday night.
They were intercepted outside their home by activists allegedly from the Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena. They were slapped, kicked, punched and threatened with dire consequences. But the assault sparked widespread condemnation including by the Yuva Sena whose leaders pledged action if the attackers were Sena members.
In Kolkata, where thousands of Kashmiris live, one Kashmiri doctor who has lived in the city for the past 22 years, is married to a Bengali and whose two children study in an upmarket school was threatened last week but vowed to stay put.
Hundreds of Kashmiri students studying in institutions in Haryana and Punjab had been living in fear of a backlash following the Pulwama attack.
Sikh non-profit organisation Khalsa Aid has sent nearly 300 Kashmiri students from various places back to their home state.
Khalsa Aid volunteers said on Thursday in Mohali, where the students had gathered after the Pulwama attack, that the last batch was sent on specially arranged vehicles with security till Jammu so that they could travel further to their respective places.
In Jammu, Sikh neighbours in particular came out in support of Kashmiri Muslims when mobs vandalized their property.
Kashmiri students residing in PG accommodation in Mullana village in Haryana’s Ambala district were told to leave on February 16. Following this, some arrived in Mohali while others took refuge in the Maharishi Markandeshwar (Deemed) University hostels.
Some Kashmiris also arrived in Mohali from Dehradun and adjoining areas where rightwing Hindu groups were most aggressive, literally driving away the students.
Some students wondered what was the fault of the larger community even if the suicide bomber was a Kashmiri or that a few Kashmiri students seemed to be supporting the attack on the CRPF.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said that there were around 4,000 Kashmiri students studying in institutions in Punjab and their safety would be ensured.
A teacher from the Kashmir Valley in a private university near Punjab’s Jalandhar city said that he was “forced” to resign after a social media post linked him to comments on the Pulwama attack.
Salman Shaheen, who was Assistant Professor of English at Lovely Professional University, alleged that a photo of his Facebook status was distorted to create an impression that he had written something objectionable about the suicide bombing.
While the Punjab and Haryana Police are keeping a close watch on the security and safety of the Kashmiri students, the activities of some students, especially on social media, were being monitored by police and security agencies.
In Himachal Pradesh, a court in Kasauli on February 17 sent a second year civil engineering student from Kashmir to judicial custody till February 28 for allegedly posting a comment “glorifying” the Pulwama killings.
A court at Anekal in Bengaluru Rural District sent three Kashmiri students to 14-day judicial custody on February 17 for allegedly posting anti-India and anti-Army remarks on Facebook, Bengaluru Rural District Superintendent of Police P.T. Shivakumar told IANS.
Another student, Tahir Latif, was remanded to judicial custody for allegedly uploading a screenshot of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dhar on his Whatsapp messenger platform.