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SC to hear PIL today seeking protection of Kashmiri students

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New Delhi, Feb 21:  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Friday a PIL seeking direction to authorities to protect Kashmiri students who are being attacked in various parts of the country following the Pulwama suicide attack.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna on Thursday took note of senior advocate Colin Gonsalves’ submission that the plea needed to be heard urgently as it relates to the safety and security of students.

The bench, which refused to list the plea for hearing on Thursday, however, assured Gonsalves that it will be listed for consideration on Friday.

The petitioner Tariq Adeeb, a lawyer, alleged in his plea that students from Kashmir Valley are being attacked at different educational institutions across the country after the Pulwama suicide attack and authorities concerned should be directed to take action to stop such assaults.

“Order directing the Centre to direct the heads of all institutions particularly, but not restricted to, educational institutions, to take immediate steps to protect the lives and dignities of minorities and Kashmiris facing discrimination and attacks,” the plea said.

The petition, filed through advocate Satya Mitra, sought direction to the Centre for taking steps to prevent  “threats, assaults, violent attacks, social boycotts, ostracism, evictions and other coercive acts” committed by groups and mobs against “Kashmiris and other minorities”.

The plea sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities for prosecuting people engaging in hate speech and appointment of a nodal officer in every state and union territory, including politically-sensitive districts to prevent any acts of violence, discrimination and vigilantism.

It also sought direction to the Centre and other authorities to immediately set up a nationwide helpline number and to establish a website containing the contact details of the nodal officers appointed in politically-sensitive districts who are responsible for maintaining law and order.

“There is a sudden rise in the incidents of crimes against Muslims and Kashmiris after the Pulwama terrorist attack on February 14 in which over 40 soldiers were killed… Immediately after the attack, mobs and vigilante groups engaged in vitriolic hate speech began attacking and threatening Muslims and Kashmiris throughout the country,” said the petition.

“These incidents are a part of organized hate campaign against the Muslims and Kashmiris, most cases which are fabricated and the hysteria that now surrounds India has been engineered to gain political mileage

“The extremist groups have led vigilante mob attacks across the country to enforce nationalism by leaders of various groups who claim to promote and instigated hate crimes,” the petition said.

NHRC issues notices to Centre, Bengal, UP, U’khand over ‘ill-treatment’ of Kashmiris

New Delhi, Feb 21: The NHRC Thursday issued notices to the Union ministries of Home and Human Resource Development, and the state governments of West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, seeking reports over “ill-treatment of Kashmiris” in wake of the Pulwama terror attack.

The National Human Rights Commission or NHRC has also issued a notice to the Delhi Police commissioner and has asked the Union ministries to submit the report on the matter within two weeks. It has given chief secretaries of the states four weeks time to send their reports.

The Commission said even though there is an atmosphere of grief and anger across the country after the terrorist attack, such kind of violence by the people against their fellow countrymen cannot be accepted in a civilised society.

Stating that such incidents will destroy the democratic fabric of the country and tarnish its image of a rich tolerant culture, the Commission, in a statement asserted that the central government should take action against miscreants.

It also highlighted the need for sensitisation of local authorities, police agencies and the general public to maintain law and order.

“Giving such bad treatment by targeting people of a particular region of the country by some elements will destroy the democratic fabric of the country. India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world and has a rich tolerant culture, which is identified and respected across the world. Such incidents would only tarnish the image of the country,” the rights body said.

“The central government has to act quickly by taking action against the miscreants. There is a need for sensitization of local authorities, police agencies and the general public to maintain law and order at every cost,” it said.

Taking a “serious note” of media reports regarding attack on Kashmiri people, including students studying in various institutes at different places in the country, it has observed that the reports, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights.

“The contents therein are shocking and very disheartening,” it said.

“Rustication, suspension or action against the students, as mentioned in the news reports, can be a matter of investigation on merits but the incidents of ill-treatment of the Kashmiri people in different parts of the country is definitely in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which protects equality before the law and equal protection of laws within the territory of India,” the statement said.

The statement stated that according to reports, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has dismissed alleged harassment of Kashmiri students outside their state and said that the government is in touch with all institutions in this regard.

However, it has also been reported that two Dehradun based educational institutions have stated on record that they will not admit Kashmiri students in future as the colleges, where the Kashmiri students are studying, were threatened by the mob, the Commission said.

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