Uproar in Jammu and Kashmir assembly over assault on Kashmiri students in Haryana. Three arrested after chief minister seeks ‘strong action’.
After an uproar broke out in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly on Saturday against the alleged assault on two Kashmiri students in Haryana’s Mahendargarh town on Friday night, and a day after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted and sought ‘strong action’ against those responsible for the incident, the Haryana Police on Saturday said the three accused had been arrested.
Shocked & disturbed to hear reports of Kashmiri students being assaulted in Mahendargarh, Haryana. I urge the authorities to investigate & take strict action. @mlkhattar
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 2, 2018
“A total six people are accused in incident of assault on two Kashmiri youth in Mahendergarh, of whom three people have been arrested and three others identified on the basis on a CCTV footage. Investigation is underway,” Kamaldeep, Superintendent of Police (Mahendergarh) told news agency ANI.
The two Kashmiri students of Central University of Haryana (CUH) who said they were assaulted by a group of “unidentified people” in the Mahendergarh town on Friday while they were returning to their university after offering Friday prayers, however, said that initially the police was reluctant to even register an FIR.
When approached, the police insisted on passing off the incident as a “verbal duel” between the assaulted youth and two locals after their motorcycles were “involved in a minor accident”. The assaulted students, however, said that they were followed and beaten up for “no reason” by a group of about 15-20 unidentified men.
“We called the police. They came. But they didn’t register an FIR. They told us that it would be only registered when a doctor would tell them that the duo had been beaten,” one of the friends of the thrashed students, also a post- graduate student in the CUH, told Greater Kashmir. “The case was only registered when university officials took up the matter with police, they added.
The two students Aaftab Ahmed and Amjad Ali belong to Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir. Their photos and videos, in which their bruised faces can be seen, emerged on social media soon after the incident, creating an outrage in the Valley.
Amjad Ali said in a statement sent to a local Kashmir daily on Friday night that they were followed from the mosque by about 15-20 unidentified men and subsequently stopped and beaten up by them in Masani Chowk. “Then they thrashed us severely, injuring both of us,” Ali said in an Urdu statement mailed to a Srinagar-based newspaper. “We are about 86 students from Jammu and Kashmir studying here and we are all worried now for our future.”
The two Kashmiri students said that the group beat them up “without any reason”.
“We had gone to Mahendergarh as there is a market there and we also offered Friday prayers there. When we left, some people were following us which we didn’t notice in the beginning. Soon, they pounced upon us and suddenly started beating us,” Ahmed said while narrating his ordeal in one of the videos that has emerged online (The Wire could not independently verify the videos). “When we reached Masani Chowk, they started beating us. My other friend was also beaten up but he somehow managed to escape,” he added.
“It is strange as all the people around us in the market just watched and didn’t come to our help.” Ahmed said, adding that he kept telling his assaulters that he was a student in the CUH, “but they didn’t listen to us and kept hitting us.” In another video, Ahmed is seen flanked by his friend who was also reportedly beaten up, his shirt torn.
Following the incident, there was an uproar in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly with the opposition members, led by National Conference and Congress, staging a walk-out in protest against the“non-seriousness” of Jammu and Kashmir government to stop the attacks on Kashmiri students in Haryana. The opposition leaders said the government had “failed” to ensure safety of students who are studying outside the state.
“This is terrible and goes against the spirit of what @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji said from the ramparts of the Red Fort. I hope the authorities in Haryana act quickly against this violence,” former chief minister and leader of the opposition in the assembly Omar Abdullah tweeted soon after the incident.
This is terrible & goes against the spirit of what @PMOIndia @narendramodi ji said from the ramparts of the Red Fort. I hope the authorities in Haryana act quickly against this violence. https://t.co/5vBU2CxHMD
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 2, 2018
In another incident, a Kashmiri student of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology, who was part of a team that had gone to Bhopal for a training course, was released after he was arrested by the police and kept in custody for two days after a local woman raised an alarm, and later tweeted, “Dozens of Kashmiris carrying a bomb in Delhi-bound Bhopal train”. The cops later questioned the students and detained one of the students – identified as Muhammad Idrees of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district – at Habibgunj Police Station.
“This hyper-nationalism built around the propaganda that all Kashmiris are terrorists & stone pelters will drive young Kashmiris further away from the national mainstream,” Abdullah wrote in a subsequent tweet, adding, “It’s these sorts of things that @HMOIndia and the interlocutor need to put an end to before the state governments puts money in the budget for “Bharat Darshans”, taking a dig at the recent Republic Day tour for students from the Valley, organised by the Border Security Force.
This hyper-nationalism built around the propaganda that all Kashmiris are terrorists & stone pelters will drive young Kashmiris further away from the national mainstream.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 3, 2018
The incident in Mahendragarh is the latest in a series of attacks on Kashmiri students in north India.
On January 31, a group of 24 Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST) students had alleged that they were unnecessarily harassed by a co-passenger on a train and later by the Madhya Pradesh police when they boarded a New Delhi-bound train from Bhopal.
Majid Maqbool is a journalist and editor based in Srinagar, Kashmir.