Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The NIT-Sringar Incident Is Too Important to be Ignored


In March of 2014, an incident had taken place in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, that had made a huge splash across newspapers. A bunch of Kashmiri Muslim students were 'suspended' and 'charged for sedition' because they deliberately cheered Pakistan's victory. They raised pro-Pakistan slogans and had deliberately provoked other students into a brawl. Much sympathy was splashed across the media by our eminent journalists on how students need to be counseled and such harsh measures were unnecessary.

Cut to 2016, and we are witnessing a case beyond proportions. Only the scales have tilted. A bunch of Kashmiri students in Srinagar deliberately provoked non-Kashmiri students after a cricket match that India lost. The offended students decided to take a peaceful march out in response carrying the Indian tricolor. What has happened since is a matter of utmost concern. Kanhaiyya Kumar dominating headlines for the utter garbage that he keeps speaking, and the conspiracy of silence adopted by the eminent journalists in writing paeans or even giving basic coverage to the incident is nothing less than condemnable. Even the local Srinagar papers have been horribly biased in their coverage, as has always been the case. Keep in mind that there are 200 Kashmiri Muslim students, mostly Kashmiri Muslim faculty and a Kashmiri Muslim dominated J&K police deployment involved in the case. Without any provocation, students have been repeatedly lathicharged. And yet, lies are being peddled that there was stone pelting (an activity undertaken every Friday ironically at the Jama Masjid in Srinagar). In contrast, we have 1800 non-Kashmiri students who have since mentioned how the faculty and administration is playing truant and trying to break the students into submission or find ways to get them out of the institute at any cost (prime example being orders to evacuate the hostel).

All efforts to downplay what is happening right now is a dangerous game being played with fire. In the seventies and eighties, a deliberate atmosphere was created for the Kashmiri Pandits and non-Kashmiri residents of several generations - Dogras, Paharis and Punjabis in particular - wherein the Srinagar administration discriminated using the official machinery. Even more disconcerting is the number of instances listed by Jagmohan in his book My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, by Rahul Pandita in Our Moon Has Blood Clots or even the Siddharth Gigoo-Varad Sharma edited anthology A Long Dream of Home. The subversion of the administration by elements sympathetic to an Islamist cause, and we see many similarities in the horror stories that the NIT Srinagar students are now sharing via social media. The taunting, the deliberate provocation and the absolute disregard for non-Muslims in the Valley is a cycle all too familiar for the Pandits. At the peak of militancy, the manner in which Sarvanand Koul Premi, Justice Neelkanth Ganjoo or even Lassa Koul among others were slaughtered for just trying to assert administrative authority is nothing less than bone-chilling. Elements of the police coopted with the militants just so to ensure that they could escape captivity, case in point being the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences as listed by Jagmohan. The fact that Yasin Malik still remains unpunished for killing Indian Air Force officers is a chilling reminder of the absolute breakdown in machinery and governance, when people like Farooq Abdullah meekly surrendered to the cause in order to win a few votes. It finds great parallels in the way Mehbooba Mufti kept avoiding formation of government; thankfully the governor still did not let go of the administrative reign. The Pandits recall how they were taunted, beaten in public or even assaulted during repeated riots across the Valley. In one case after the 1987 Anantnag riots in fact, it is said that a Pandit had slapped Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, then a Congress leader, only to be reminded who the majority is by Mufti himself. The state had even then just meekly watched; what happened since is a shameful chapter that refuses to come to a close.

Just as back then, the media today refuses to talk about what is going on in Srinagar. Tweets by eminent journalists would make you believe that we live in a different country altogether. A universe where these incidents don't matter - that is also what happened during the mass exodus and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. In a truly leftists paradigm, the liberati of this country continues to define it from the prism of a bourgeois - proletariat paradigm, trying to conceal the real problem. The silence of the media back then proved to be the final nail in the coffin of the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from their own home. The non-Kashmiris had it much worse - Sanjay Suri and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have stated in interviews the circumstances under which their families too had to flee Kashmir. Between the months of January and June of 1990, many non-Kashmiris were systematically targeted and exterminated by the terrorists, and the police did nothing. The silence of the media, or its reliance on official versions are laughable, considering the way they hounded the Delhi Police to find ways to exonerate Kanhaiyya Kumar and his ilk of Sharia Bolsheviks, who seem to have lost voice over the current crisis. Another class of tourists - the Rahu Gandhis and Arvind Kejriwals - have clearly to realize that Kashmir is not a foreign country, and could have chosen to visit it - but no, as these students are not a vote bank to target. Just like the Kashmiri Pandits, they number too few to pander to.

We need to raise our voices and shout ourselves hoarse and raise mayhem over what the students are facing. The NIT-Sringar incident is too important to be ignored. The wheel of time has come a full circle after three decades - it is time we do not let a repeat of lapses happen all over again. A lapse again, and posterity shall never forgive us. Kanhaiyya Kumar will not save the nation; our collective conscience will. Please, do not ignore this incident or brush it off as inconsequent.


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