As Hate Incidents Pile Up, Modi Finally Breaks Silence on Attacks on Kashmiris

The Wire has catalogued at least 40 reported incidents of violence, harassment or intimidation of Kashmiris in different parts of India since the Pulwama terror attack.

New Delhi: Ever since a suicide bomb attack claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel at Pulwama in south Kashmir on February 14, there have been at least 40 cases of assault or harassment of Kashmiris in other parts of the country.

As Kashmiris reached out in desperation to civil society groups for assistance in the face of the indifferent attitude displayed by the police, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained silent even when a senior BJP politician handpicked by him to serve as a governor in the north-east publicly called for a boycott of all Kashmiris.

Finally, it was left to the Supreme Court to remind the government of its responsibility towards ensuring the safety of all citizens.

One day after the court intervened, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the subject.

At a rally in the Tonk district of Rajasthan on Saturday, February 23, he said “our fight is not against Kashmiris”. Modi said the youth of Kashmir was also disturbed by terrorism and insisted that “they are with the people of the country”.

“Hamari ladai aatankvaad ke khilaaf hai, manavta ke dushmanon ke khilaf hai.
Kashmir ke liye hai, Kashmir ke khilaf nahin hai, Kashmiriyon ke khilaf nahin hai.
Pichlay dinon, kahan kya hua, ghatna chhoti thi ki badi thi – Kashmiri bachon ke saath Hindustan ke kisi koney mein kya hua, kya nahin hua – mudda yeh nahin hai. Is desh mein aisa nahin hona chahiye.”

(Our fight is against terrorism, against the the enemies of humanity. It is for Kashmir, not against Kashmir, not against the Kashmiris. In the past few days, the issue is not where or what happened or didn’t happen to Kashmiri students in some corner of India, or whether it was a big or small incident. The fact is such things should not happen in the country.)

Though he refrained from directly condemning the incidents of harassment and violence against Kashmiris or threatening action against those had been acting in this manner, Modi said it was the duty of people across India to ensure the Kashmiris in their midst were safe:

“Hindustan me kisi bhi koney mein, mera Kashmir ma lal, uski hifazat karna, mere Hindustan ke har nagrik ka kaam hai. Batao bhaiyon, haath uthakar, aap yeh zimmedaari uthaogey kya?”

(In whichever corner of India my Kashmiri children may be, it is the job of my Indian citizens to keep them safe. Tell me, brothers, by raising your hands, do you accept this responsibility?)

“Kashmir’s youth are also affected by terrorism, they also want an end to terrorism,” he said, “and we have to take them along with us.” He added that when terrorists attacked pilgrims in Amarnath, it was the “Muslims of Kashmir who stood in line to give blood to Indian yatris”.

Modi’s critics believe that by not speaking out on the issue soon after violence against Kashmiris began following the Pulwama attack, Modi emboldened the fringe who were carrying out the attacks. His silence also prompted some opposition leaders to question the motive behind it. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was one of the leaders who asked why Modi was silent when Kashmiri students were being targeted elsewhere in the country.

SC directed states, UTs to act

That Modi spoke only after Supreme Court directed all states and Union territories to “take prompt and necessary action to prevent incidents of assault, threat, social boycott and such other egregious acts against the Kashmiris” is also noteworthy.

The directions came from a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. It said the police officers, who were earlier appointed as nodal officers to deal with lynching incidents, would now be responsible to deal with cases of assaults on Kashmiris.

Subsequently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said all states and union territories have appointed nodal officers to resolve the problems of Kashmiris who are being targeted. It also asked states to ensure the security of Kashmiris who were reportedly attacked in the last few days.

Here are some of the instances of attacks on and harassment of Kashmiris in the recent past

1. A Kashmiri youth was booked for allegedly posting derogatory remarks on Facebook following the Pulwama attack. A case was registered against Abid Malik under relevant sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. The complaint was lodged by Vishwa Hindu Parishad office bearer Girish Bharadwaj.

2. A mob threatened Kashmir girls studying at a university in Dehradun. It assembled outside their hostel and asked them vacate. One of the girls made a fervent appeal: “Please save us from these goons.” She feared that if they would “go outside our rooms we will be attacked as they have surrounded our hostel.”

3. Two Kashmiri students were beaten up by Right-wing activists at Yavatmal in Maharashtra. The students, Umar Rashid Dar and Umar Nazir Ganai, both from Kupwara, and their friends were intercepted outside their home. The attackers demanded to know where they hailed from. When they replied Kashmir, they were slapped, kicked, punched and threatened with “dire consequences”.

4.  The fellowship of two Kashmiri girls was cancelled and action was initiated against a third by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) for allegedly posting adverse remarks against the Indian Army on a WhatsApp group in which other students were also members.

5. A farmers’ outfit in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Prakesh warned a sugar mill of “dire consequences” if it would not ‘throw out’ Kashmiri workers. A day earlier right wing groups similarly threatened Mansoorpur Sugar Mill management to “throw out Kashmiri workers.”

6. Three Kashmiri students, pursuing B.Sc. Nursing, were booked in Bengaluru for posting alleged “anti-national and derogatory comments” on social media over Pulwama attack.

7. A Kashmiri student was also suspended for allegedly posting an ‘anti-national’ comment over Pulwama attack on social media by IIMT College of Engineering, Greater Noida. College chief proctor also urged area senior superintendent of police to take “exemplary and strict action” against the “culprit”.

8. A fourth semester student of radio imaging technology at SGT University of Gurgaon, Delhi was rusticated for her social media post over the Pulwama attack. A university official said action was taken against her following a complaint.

9.  Many Kashmiri students were forced to vacate their rented accommodation in Dehradun. Some were asked to do so by their landlords.

10. A professor from Kashmir was forced to resign  by authorities at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar. Salman Shaheen, a resident of Sopore, taught English. He was forced to resign after morphed text of a Facebook post by him was widely circulated over social media.

11. Several hoteliers put out notices asking Kashmiri tourists to stay away from their properties in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Some of them claimed that the local population of Kashmir is “supportive of militants despite our security men being killed.”

Signs put up in a number of Agra hotels. Credit: Screengrab from Times of India video

12.  A shawl trader from Budgam district of Kashmir was accosted and beaten by a mob in West Bengal. Javid Ahmad Khan (27) of Soibugh was attacked in Taherpur area of Nadia district.

13. Kashmiris attacked with Molotov cocktails in Jammu. Victims of violence allege involvement of political party in attacks.

14. A student of Aligarh Muslim University was booked in a criminal case and suspended by the university over a tweet. Basim Hilal, a mathematics student, had allegedly tweeted, “How’s the Jaish? Great Sir.”

15.  Four girl students from Kashmir were suspended by NIMS University in Rajasthan for allegedly raising anti-national slogans and celebrating the Pulwama attack.

16.  A Jalandhar college suspended two Kashmiri students for their social media posts. The authorities at the SUS Engineering college Tangori Jalandhar said the engineering students were suspended “with immediate effect.”

17. A Kashmiri doctor, living in Kolkata for 22 years, claimed that he was asked to leave  the city or face “dire consequences”. He, however, decided to stay put after the West Bengal government assured him protection.

18. Several properties of Kashmiris were targeted by mobs in Jammu. A large number of these properties were of government servants working the region.

19. Attacks on Kashmiri students triggered a mass exodus. By February 18, about 300 Kashmiri students had reached Mohali from Uttarakhand and Haryana on their way to their homes. While 280 of these students came from Dehradun, about 30 reached from Ambala in Haryana. Many students also moved towards Jammu en-route the Kashmir Valley.

20. Two Dehradun colleges stopped admission for Kashmiris. Even as students fled the city to escape attacks by fundamentalists, two Dehradun based colleges declared that they would not give admissions to Kashmiri students from the next session.

21. A Kashmiri student was held in Himachal Pradesh for “glorifying” the suicide bomber. A second year student of Chitkara University, Tahseen Gul had allegedly put up a picture of Dar as his Whatsapp profile photo with words — “Allah Talah aap ki shahadat kabool kare (May Allah accept your martydom)” — as his status.

22. Fearing violence, nearly 60 Kashmiri traders fled Ramgarh in Haryana leaving their goods behind. They did so after some people threw stones at their shops and taunted them during a candle-light march. Some were also asked by their landlords to vacate the properties.

23. As many as 30 Kashmiri students fled Ballopur village in Mohali, Punjab after their paying guest accommodation owners began getting threats from activisists. Trouble started after a former student “liked” a social media post about the Pulwama attack. Thereafter, the residents of the village asked them to leave.

24. Two Kashmiri students were suspended while one was rusticated by Uttarakhand colleges following the Pulwama strike. One of them had posted a photograph of a militant affliated with Hizbul Mujahideen, Shoaib Lone, who was killed in an encounter between militants and security forces with the message: “Allah aapki shahadat qabool kare (May Allah accept your martyrdom).”

Another student, pursuing B.Sc. Medical Radiology and Imaging Technology at Ras Bihari Bose Subharti University was suspended for posting a message calling celebrations after the Pulwama attack.

25. A mob pressured Roorkee-based Quantum University to rusticate seven Kashmiri students for allegedly posting anti-national content on Instagram. The group, comprising members of Hindu outfits and university students, charged that the posts eologising Pakistan were posted by these students.

26. Two Kashmiri students arrested in Himachal Pradesh over comments on Facebook page. The police said Pirzada Tawish Fayaz and Aakib Rasool, both students of Nauni University Dr in Solan, were arrested on the basis of a complaint from one Neeraj Bhardwaj who alleged that Fayaz had posted anti-national comments on his Facebook page.

27. Some Kashmiri artisans were taunted by visitors at an exhibition organised at Himachal Bhawan in Chandigarh. Thereafter many of them decided to leave for the Valley fearing more trouble.

28. Over 500 Kashmiri students in Ambala felt threatened after one of them was beaten up. Situation deteriorated after the sarpanch of Mullana gave local residents a 24-hour “ultimatum” to “throw out” Kashmiris living on rent.

29. Six Kashmiri students were suspended by a college in Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. One of them, 20-year-old Mohsin Khan alias Monty, was arrested on the complaint of Bajrang Dal activists that he had glorifies the Pulwama militant by terming him a “hunter” in a social media post.

30. In many places, the students were so scared of the threats that they even shaved their beards to avoid being targeted. In Ambala, Aaqib, a student of Maharishi Markandeshwar University shaved his beard after one other student was assaulted in Mullana.

31. A traders’ body in Mussoorie issued a call asking Kashmiri woollen traders to leave the city. The Mussoorie Traders & Welfare Association said 18 new traders had set up business in the city and it wanted them to leave. It also said that most of the shops taken on rent by these traders were let out on a 11-month contract, which was due to expire in February end.

32. A Kashmiri student was suspended by Swami Devi Dyal College in Barwala, Chandigarh for allegedly stating in his WhatsApp status “Jaish the best…more to come”.

33. A Noida hotel put up a sign which read ‘Kashmiris not allowed’. The property belonged to Navnirman Sena chief Amit Jani. Though the poster was later removed, Jani said the “policy will continue”. Following the controversy OYO Rooms terminated its contract with the hotel.

34. The Bar Association of Solan district court in Himachal Pradesh has passed a resolution against representing a 21-year-old Kashmiri student in a case registered against him for allegedly making comments against national integration.

35. A journalist from Jammu and Kashmir, Jibran Nazir, was beaten up by two men in Pune. The accused alleged told him that they would “send him back to Kashmir”.

36. A Kashmiri man was beaten up by the public for allegedly raising “anti-India” slogans. The incident took place at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The victim was allegedly in an inebriated state when the attack took place.

37. Two Kashmiri woollen sellers were beaten on a train while on way to Sampla in Haryana from Delhi. They claim to have lost goods worth nearly Rs 2 lakh while escaping from about 15 hoodlums.

38. A teenaged girl was trolled and allegedly threatened with rape on Facebook for putting out a post on the plight of Kashmiris in the wake of the Pulwama attack. The matter was report from Kolkata.

39. The Alpine Institute, Dehradun terminated the services of its Kashmiri college dean after a violent mob threatened the college administration that they would set the college building on fire if their demand to remove him was not met. The dean, Abid Kuchay, a resident of Kulgam, said he agreed to the decision keeping in mind the “betterment of college”.

40. The biggest attack on Kashmiris, however, came from Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy who endorsed a call by a retired colonel to “boycott everything Kashmiri”.