The outstation students of National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, have put forth some "non-negotiable" demands, including hoisting of the national flag at the main gate of the campus and shifting the institute outside the Kashmir Valley.
Their demand came after they were thrashed by the police for protesting against some of their local mates who rejoiced at India's defeat to the West Indies in the recently-concluded World T20. The non-Kashmir students of the engineering college, who called themselves "Indian students", told a three-member team comprising Union ministry of human resources development (MHRD) directors Sanjeev Sharma and Faizal Mehmood, and chairman of the NIT board of governors MJ Zarabi, that was sent by the MHRD, "This is not India, sir. We cannot live here. You will have to shift the college". The students are adamant on their demands and announced that they will continue to boycott classes until their demands are met.
The outstation students are totally justified in their demands. Since the very beginning, when the controversy broke, they have been fighting in the interest of the country and are not asking anything for themselves. These are the four reasons why the NIT should be shifted out of the Kashmir Valley.
|Several oustation students have been injured in the police lathicharge on April 5.|
1. Safety and security of the non-Kashmir students
An anti-India sentiment dominates the Kashmir Valley. Indians are generally considered as outsiders. Anti-India slogans and demands of "azadi" are a common feature there. They are as common as Pakistani flags or even Islamic State (ISIS) flags now. Tourists going to the valley always feel threatened. In such a situation, students from outside the valley are at risk. After this controversy, they will be targeted by the local population, secessionists and terrorists even more.
The outstation students have already started getting threats. A non-Kashmiri girl revealed that she was threatened with rape by local students. "Local Kashmiri students are threatening us - outstation girl students - with rape and molestation. Yesterday, a group of Kashmiri students walked up to me and said: 'Ek ke saath rape hoga to sab thande pad jaoge' (If one of you gets raped, the rest will fall silent)," she said.
2. End to the travails of non-Kashmiri students
A handful of students, around 200 out of a total of 1,400, are creating troubles just because they belong to the state. Despite being in majority numerically, the 1,200 outstation students live in the shadow of fear and violence. The minority is influenced by anti-India sentiments. If the NIT is shifted, they won't afford to create problems for the majority of students who come from outside the state.
|An injured outstation student.|
3. NIT administration and teaching staff equally responsible
The college administration and some teachers, who possibly are from the Valley, are also accused of supporting the trouble-making students. They have threatened the outstation students of spoiling their careers. The non-Kashmiri students are blaming the college administration for condoning anti-national activities on the campus.
"While outstation students are in the majority, the college officials and the teaching staff have been encouraging such anti-national activities," a Delhi student studying in NIT Srinagar said. It is similar to what has been happening in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where also, some teachers have been accused of shielding students who subscribe to anti-India views or have indulged in anti-national activities. If the NIT is shifted outside Kashmir, such teachers will also desist from taking extra-institutional steps.
4. Why the majority should suffer due to the inefficiency of the state government?
The majority of the students should not be allowed to suffer because of the inability of the state government to maintain law and order and guarantee safety and security to them. The Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the BJP-PDP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir will downplay the idea of shifting the institute as it will give a bad name to the state. However, just for the sake of unpopularity, the majority of the students should not be inconvenienced and their safety and security cannot be put in jeopardy.
Successive Central and state governments have failed to rein in the anti-India elements in the Valley. Let them learn a lesson and act towards maintaining peace and a sense of security in the state. Till then at least, let the NIT get shifted to Jammu, which is also a part of the state, being the winter capital of the state government.