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Sunday, June 16, 2024

I wish I could get out of this hell: NIT Srinagar student

The police assault on outstation students at NIT Srinagar and the students’ fervent appeals regarding the hostile campus environment they are forced to endure were barely covered by our mainstream media. A month later, NIT Srinagar is absent from the newspapers & news channels. The events at this college are deemed unimportant by the powerful cabal of editors who control our media; contrast this with the non-stop coverage of the ‘Bharat ki barbadi tak’ protests at JNU, especially the student leader Kanhaiya Kumar who our ‘leading intellectuals’ declared would be the savior of the nation.

But we at HinduPost have not forgotten the angst of the outstation students at NIT Srinagar – we reached out to one of the students through email to get a first hand account of what transpired there over the last month. The student has requested that his identity should be kept anonymous.

Q.) What exactly happened on the night of the Bharat-West Indies T-20 match?

It was a close match between the two teams. As Bharat lost, Kashmiri students cheered, danced, burst crackers. Some shop owners offered free edibles for that night, and threw stones at our hostels to agitate us. They shouted “Hindustan Murdabaad”.

Q.) What happened when student went to complaint to the college authorities, namely the NIT Director?

Next morning, when we approached the college authorities with our complaints of broken glass windows and anti-national slogans, college said it will not intervene much and adopted delaying tactics. The NIT Director came out after students sat for 5 hours outside his office on the road. After the director left, students were returning back to their hostel rooms, de-motivated.

On the way, Kashmiri students started teasing, as they returned from Friday namaz, since the Director had taken no action against them. To their anti-national slogans, we responded with nationalistic slogans. Their group included some faculty as well. After that a clash took place between the two parties. Outstation students marched around the campus with Bharat’s flag. Kashmiri students from Kashmir University entered inside the campus with Pakistan flags. The college authorities called in the J&K Police to handle the scenario.

After police came in, it lathi charged only the students holding Bharatiya Flag. They took our flag and beat us severely. Many got hurt. None of the anti-nationals were charged with lathi or tear gas.

Q.) We understand that the police attacked students twice – first on 1 April, and then again on 5th April. Is this true? Please explain the entire sequence of events in details.

From the next morning, we outstation students sat on a peaceful protest. On 5th April, we tried to approach a media reporter at the college gate. Police did not want our voice to go out. They attacked us brutally; they fired tear gas shells & even live rounds in the air. Many students got injured, fractured; many got blisters and swellings. The medical unit was full with more than 100 victims that day. No one listened to us. We got many threats that we would be killed and murdered.

On this day, J&K Police even barged inside Indus Hostel and attacked few students who were not even part of the protest – we have videos to prove this.

Q.) What was the general environment in the NIT Srinagar college (before the clash over the T-20 match)?

Even before the match related issue at the campus, the atmosphere always had an undercurrent of unrest and violence. Every other day, Kashmir faced regional strikes, shutting our classes for many days. Some Kashmiri students, better to be mentioned as anti-nationals, always held a grudge against us outstation students, and revenge in their hearts. They were friendly when they needed some help from us, and disappeared once their motive was complete. I call them our friend faced enemies.

Once, a Kashmiri student got in a small dispute with an outstation friend of mine, to whom the Kashmiri guy bragged that you should maintain yourself remembering you are not in your homeland. “This is Azad Kashmir, my reign.” Anyhow, there were some guys who were different as well. They wanted to move out of Bharat and Kashmir, tired with the turmoil, history and atmosphere of this place.

Professors were of two typical attitudes – Open and Reserved. Open ones welcomed all with their grace and knowledge, while the Reserved ones were open only to a few Kashmiris. We observed partiality many a times, especially in our initial years, where a Kashmiri student with AIEEE rank of 50,000 got more marks than outstation students at rank of 15,000, even though their papers contained more answers than the former’s. Moreover, each one of us was confined to a small room in hostel with 4 other students – there was never any personal space for anyone. In all, I’ll say Kashmiris and outstation students were never true friends in general, though there were some exceptions.

Q.) Did the authorities talk to the students during this entire episode? Did anyone from the State Government talk to you?

After this major massacre of injuries, MHRD team rushed in on 8th April, but did nothing. State Government never stood up for us. On 9th and 10th of April, Nirmal Singh, deputy CM called in few student representatives to address our grievances, but did nothing to address them. On 11th all of us left for Jammu and Delhi, to continue our protests there. It’s been 25 days of struggle, no one has listened to us yet.

Q.) How many students get injured in the police attack? Did they get adequate treatment, and what is their current condition?

Treatment was not satisfactory. It was delayed. A student had to be sent to Jammu to get a permanent plate because of a fracture. There were around 150 casualties.

Q.) When the MHRD officials visited and met with students, we heard girl students make some serious allegations that they received rape threats from locals. Can you shed light on the same?

Yes, we’d faced threats. Many girls students had been threatened since the match incident. There were disputes in the girls hostels; they were openly threatened on social media. Girl students have spoken about the same, to MHRD Officials, who did not act accordingly though.

Q.) During that interaction, students said that discrimination against outstation students is deep-rooted and even previous batches have faced it. Can you provide more details?

Discrimination is deep rooted in NIT Srinagar. Kashmiri students would talk to Kashmiri teachers after examinations and get their marks raised. They’d score better than us, even though their ranks were much poorer in AIEEE.

Q.) Is it true that some faculty threatened to fail protesting students?

Faculty, such as Nusra Bandey, openly commented on Facebook to fail us; we were threatened that we would get our degrees late by 2 years.

Q.) Do you think the rest of Bharat stood by you during this crisis?

We expected the entire nation to unite and stand with us. But no one did. Even in Delhi, no political figure came. No one helped us with their support. We’re highly terrified to return to that place, where our festivals are boycotted – we have to submit dozens of applications to get permission for any celebration; we were brutally thrashed by police; where no academic staff safeguarded us; where our parents’ blood pressure rises every time we leave for college; where I now fear to live 24×7.

Q.) One of the main demands of outstation students is to shift the NIT out of Srinagar. What will you do if the Government doesn’t agree to this demand?

What can we do? We’re just 17-21 year olds, who qualified for 15,000 seats at National Institute of Technology, out of 14 lakh aspirants for the same. If I’d been told earlier, that you’re going to an anti-national Institute, I’d have never come here (NIT Srinagar).

At my rank in AIEEE, I could have easily got into top notch Engineering colleges in Delhi. I’d skipped my seat at Jaypee, IPU and HBTI, for this institute. It was the biggest mistake of my life. I would never recommend this college to anyone – stereotypical faculty, who’s never willing to change. We’re tired, de-motivated and without confidence. We don’t know where to move on. We’re stuck. My middle-class family had sent me with hopes to an there would be no placements, though I have the talent. I feel like I have wasted my time in this prison. No personal growth, no work culture.

Q.) What are you future plans?

We’ve no plans. We’re stuck and would be forced again to enter that prison. We’re left with no faith in Bharat and its Government. We wish there was a way we could get out of this hell. One question to Government – why did you want us, the top rankers at AIEEE (among 14,00,000 aspirants) to waste their brains, fighting the anti-nationals?

Q.) Are you satisfied with the way national media covered the NIT Srinagar crisis, compared to how they covered events in JNU?

No. Media has not taken the effort to report the true facts about the horror we students faced in NIT Srinagar.

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