While it still remains unclear why students at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, were subjected to police violence, political parties have already started the mud-slinging game.
The crackdown comes months after the controversy surrounding Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, where student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and two others were arrested — and later released on bail — on charges of sedition.
Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, among others, have all criticised both the state government and the Centre, even as a two-member team from the Union HRD (Human Resources Development) ministry held a consultation with officials of the engineering institute on Wednesday.
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Business Standard takes a look at what exactly happened at the institute and the developments that have taken place so far.
India’s T20 defeat
The clashes in the NIT Srinagar campus started on March 31, when a few Kashmiri students celebrated the exit of Indian cricket team from the World T20, following its loss to the West Indies in the semi-final match. This was strongly objected to by non-Kashmiri students in the campus and clashes broke out, leaving a few injured.
Protests and counter protests
On April 1, non-Kashmiri students waved the tricolour on campus and tried to hoist it near NIT’s administrative block, protesting against celebrations on the night before.
These students shouted slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Murdabad’. Kashmiri students too raised counter-slogans like ‘Hum Kya Chahte Azadi’.
Local Bharatiya Janata Party MP Tarun Vijay lauded the “patriotic students” for teaching separatists “a good lesson”. The prevailing unrest forced NIT authorities to suspend classes.
NIT Director Rajat Gupta assured students, faculty and parents that the prevailing tensions were temporary and had been overcome. He said that the situation on the campus and in the hostels was normal. Classes resumed on Monday with a heavy deployment of police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel. “Security is our top priority,” Gupta said.
On April 5, the campus was thrust into further turmoil when some engineering students, who staged a protest march inside the campus and allegedly tried to leave the campus, clashed with the police. They later accused the police of using brute force and, eventually, barge into hostels in order to beat up the students. CRPF was subsequently deployed on the campus.
HRD steps in
Both Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani tweeted saying they spoke to J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and that she had ensured the safety of the students. An HRD ministry team, meanwhile, was sent to NIT, after a group representing Kashmiri Pandits voiced their concerns regarding the same. The students are now demanding to shift the campus from Kashmir to Jammu, Hindustan Times reports.
Politicians jump in
Kejriwal took a dig at the BJP and endorsed the views that the BJP was beating those who are “chanting Bharat Mata ki Jai” in Kashmir, and those “who are not” raising the slogan in the rest of the country.
Abdullah said that replacing state police with the CRPF hinted at Centre’s lack of confidence in the newly-appointed CM Mehbooba Mufti.