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On Harassment of Kashmiri Students

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By: Muzamil Manzoor

The aftermath of Pulwama suicide attack has been unsettling for all as the students as well as travellers and traders of Kashmir in other parts of India were persecuted, humiliated, debunked and threatened. Many students were attacked as the mobs blamed their Kashmiri identity as being synonymous with being ‘traitors’, ‘Pak lovers’ and also ‘terrorist’.

While we know that it is only a fringe element, except for a few cases wherein leaders as senior as governor of a state, that created the atmosphere of hate and criminality, there is however no doubt about the fact students in various universities and colleges in India were scared to death by the events unfolding immediately after the said attack.

The events also brightened the contradictions in various discourses in mainland India which have, all along, claimed that Kashmiris were ‘theirs’ as much as Kashmir. Such presumptions were however badly contested and ruptured by the fact that several students of Kashmir were forced to vacate their places and asked to ‘go to Pakistan’. The fear psychosis gripped the valley for the thousands of students who are pursuing one or the other course in different states of India.

Now the situation is such that parents as well as students would think twice before applying for admission in any of the colleges or universities in states other than Kashmir. Knowing very well that instability in Kashmir which has been marring our academic sessions badly doesn’t seem going away any sooner, the students might not have any other option to explore now given the kind of blacklisting that they have faced at other institutions in India.

Apart from the academic deficit that students face here alongside meagre chances of finding any good placements, the students who opt for outside state institutions etc also look for gaining exposure and better opportunities. Besides, there is no doubt that a vibrant academic institution with a secular atmosphere not only helps the students of Kashmir but also enhances the deeper understanding of issues through sharing and consolidation experiences amongst students.

There are many scholarships and schemes for Kashmiri students for their facilitation in oursuing higher degrees in various colleges and universities of India and the air of distress created around the Pulwama attack has marred even those possibilities to a large extent.

Students here have faced conflict in its entire nakedness and those who decide to move out for pursuing their studies in different states of India have already gestured their seriousness as well as the financial courage that they have acquired to go ahead. Here, it seems nearly mpossible to complete any degrees in due course of time.

Isn’t it a good thing that if Kashmiri students are welcomes, they would return as ambassadors of peace after completing their education? Does this occur to any of the policy makers, leave aside the fringe which has neither the brains nor the acumen to comprehend such a thing.

The recent harassment of students is a grave concern and it has forced students to think whether to continue their studies under such hostile circumstances, which can turn ugly at any time, or move back to valley. The unfortunate incidents have, once again, alienated student community of Kashmir as much as the people of Kashmir in general.  As a result, less number of Kashmiri students will seek admission in educational institutions outside the valley in the future.

The need for the authorities is to ensure that academic campuses are sanitized and cleaned of the atmosphere of hatred, jingoism and bigotry. It is the academic institutions that shape our society and no country can afford to let its institutions decay under the debris of radicalization and polarization for both are detrimental to the overall wellbeing of a nation.

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