Kashmiris Living outside Kashmir

The youth of Kashmir see one more side of India by studying in various states of India. The presence of Kashmiri students is increasing day by day across most of the educational institutions in the country, which is important to cultivate a natural bond between Kashmiris and the rest of India.

However, in the recent years, there has been a rise in the incidents of harassment against Kashmiri students in various parts of the country. From Feb 2013 to April 2016, there have been at least 30 reported attacks on Kashmiri students studying in various colleges outside the valley. The 2016 turmoil of Kashmir further divided a wedge between the Kashmiris and the rest of the India and the feeling of hatred and animosity was seen again, and due to this many Kashmiri students have been attacked in several states of India such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Utter Pradesh, and Haryana etc. Many students have been expelled by their respective colleges, and there have been instances of Kashmiris being booked for sedition merely on the basis of their posts and comments on Facebook, following the complaints made by the local students.
On several occasions, the victims alleged that they received cold response from the local police when they sought their help. In one of the incident on 27 September, six Kashmiri students were beaten up inside the campus of Ganga Institute of Technology and Management, Jhajjar, by their counterparts and security guards. The students also alleged that even the hostel warden beat up a Kashmiri student without listening to their version of the incident. This created a sense of sense of insecurity and fear among the Kashmiris in various colleges and universities, a somewhat controversial comment or a post on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media platform by a Kashmiri is enough to lead to his expulsion, or a case of sedition filed against him or her even if it is not directly intended to hurt others. A student from Srinagar, Mudasir Yousuf, was expelled from Aligarh Muslim University for posting an objectionable comment on Facebook over the Uri terror attack on army base. The student had offered his apology to the Vice Chancellor, stating that he was carried away by sentiments. In Udaipur, one more Kashmiri student, Mudasir Rashid, has been booked, on 29 September, for sedition based on his comment on Facebook related to Uri terror attack. Last month, in a similar incident, Chattisgarh Police arrested a Kashmiri man, Taufiq Ahmad, who worked in Bhilai with Vivo Mobiles, for liking a Facebook post. This type of culture has given birth to an ‘us vs. them’ environment which is not only bad for Kashmiris living outside but also for the unity of the whole nation.

Shakib Ashraf was arrested after a mob alleged he had cooked beef in his university hostel. The meat was later revealed to be mutton after a lab test by the police. Umar Rashid was thrashed after he told two people that he was from Kashmir. Kaleemullah was called a “terrorist” after an altercation with another student. Mujahid Zahid was beaten with wooden sticks and logs. Bahar Ahmed Giri was told to go back to Kashmir by locals at a market. All of these incidents, drawn from reports in national newspapers, took place in the last one year in Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. These names represent just a handful of the Kashmiri students who travel every year across the country for education, employment, and security. Their dreams are facilitated by the central government through the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir. Launched in 2011 with a grant of Rs 1,200 crore, it funds five thousand students from the state annually. But once they leave Kashmir, these students often face vicious verbal and physical abuse. Many end up returning home more alienated than they were to begin with. The whopping sum of federal funds has not made integration any easier. Prejudice against Kashmiris isn’t new. But conversations with young Kashmiris in North India suggest that the anti-Kashmiri sentiment has amplified. There has been a surge of nationalism in India. As a result, the violence and political strife associated with the Valley are constant threats for Kashmiris even when they are outside Kashmir. One Kashmiri student of the elite Delhi University, talked about how he was attacked in school when India lost to Pakistan in a cricket match. He recounted the incident by saying he was an elite school in West Delhi. Once, his entire hostel was watching an India-Pakistan match, when India lost that match in a very cold manner his fellow students blamed him for it. He was beaten up by his fellow schoolmates and student who tried to stop the violence were also beaten up.

A Kashmiri student at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, one of India’s top engineering colleges, received threats to his life.Hashim Sofi a research scholar at Science and Engineering Board found his hostel room riddled with threats and curses and to his horror he found hate notes written like “U R A SUCH A SHAME KASHMIRI DOG” and “ANTI NATIONAL KASHMIRI PERVERT, NO PLACE FOR U HERE” written on his clothing. A series of such attacks on young Kashmiris in various parts of India took place rapidly, including the one where eight Kashmiri students were assaulted near Mewar University. In Mewar a mob of people harassed some Kashmiri students asking them to leave the state when they were out shopping blaming them for a video where jawans in Kashmir were being harassed.It is not the first time when Kashmiris are facing such violence, verbal abuse and hate has always been prevalent throughout the course of 27 years but recent times paved a way for a step ahead of such abuse which is the physical abuse, innocent students who don’t have any part in the turmoil and are just focusing on their lives and studies are being targeted for something they are not responsible of, if these students thought of their fellow Indians as enemies they wouldn’t come to study with them in the first place, it’s important for people the India to know that these Kashmiris are the ones who are with them and not against them, instead of bridging the gap and making the youth of Kashmir see the positive side of India while they are there, they are being targeted and adding more fuel to the already lit fire among the youth of Kashmir regarding India. The differential treatment towards Kashmiris who choose to study or work in other states makes the real enemy even stronger. Every time there is unrest in the Valley, one or another Kashmiri student, who is trying to escape violence and focus on education, faces discrimination and hate. Even something as simple as an India-Pakistan match or a discussion over mutton and beef can prove to be troublesome. While on one hand efforts are being made to include Kashmiris in the mainstream and make them a pivotal part of every aspect of the nation, on the other, those who are volunteering to be part of it are being pushed back and alienated.