New Delhi: Hundreds of students from Kashmir studying in Dehradun have shut themselves in their rooms or whatever accommodation they have been able to find. After a day of protests in the valley town led by the Bajrang Dal, the students “fear for their lives”, as The Wire was told over the phone.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 Kashmiri students study in various colleges and institutes in Dehradun. Several students have been assaulted, while others have been forced out of their rented. Many have also left Dehradun to return home to Kashmir.
“Not everyone can leave. The tickets are very expensive. The route will not be safe either for Kashmiris,” a student told The Wire.
“Mobs have been threatening violence with slogans like ‘Hindustan ki gaddaron ko goli maro’. The mob is on every corner on every street with weapons in their hand. We are scared to move out, go anywhere. We do not know what to do,” another student told The Wire.
Vikas Verma, convenor of the Bajrang Dal in Dehradun, confirmed that students from Kashmir have been subjected to violence. “Yes, they are our targets,” he said. “They have been celebrating the Pulwama attacks. They have been chanting pro Pakistan slogans. We feed them, we keep them in our homes and this is how they pay us back. We will teach them a lesson.”
Two students have been suspended by their colleges for posting insensitive content on their social media profiles.
Verma also said that the Bajrang Dal has warned landlords to evict tenants of Kashmiri origin. “We have lost three sons from Uttarakhand in the attacks. Kashmiris must leave Dehradun. We are warning them and those who give them shelter,” he told The Wire.
A group of around 20 women from Kashmir studying in a college on the outskirts of the city, have confined themselves to their rooms as a mob has gathered around their hostel. “It is a massive violent mob which is baying for our blood. We fear for our lives,” a student at the hostel said.
The Bajrang Dal has accused the women of provoking the mob. “There was a rally to pay respects to the martyrs of Pulwama. It was passing their hostel and these girls screamed ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. There is bound to be a reaction to that,” said Verma.
Students stuck in different parts of Dehradun have requested that they be air lifted out of the capital city. “We request the government of India to please air lift us out of Dehradun. We are not safe here. Our life is in danger,” a student said.
Director General (law and order) Ashok Kumar said that the necessary security arrangements have been made to protect the students, but also commented, “People are emotional at this time. The Kashmiri students have also made insensitive comments and provoked people. There is bound to be a reaction. But, we are doing everything to provide them the security cover they need,” he told The Wire.