THE CLASHES IN NIT SRINAGAR:A GLIMPSE OF THE MOOD IN THE VALLEY
A senior official of Ministry of Human Resource Development said on Saturday that the National Institute of Technology (NIT) will remain in Srinagar and the examination will be held as per schedule from April 11, 2016. The statement came after some non-Kashmiri students had demanded that NIT must be shifted to Jammu as they did not feel safe in Srinagar.
The trouble began when India lost the semi-finals of T20 World Cup to West Indies and some Kashmiri students started celebrating India’s defeat by raising freedom slogans. In response, a clash broke out amongst Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students and the latter also carried out protests in the campus raising ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogans. In following days, around 500 students tried to march out of the NIT campus alleging that they felt insecure and wanted to go home. The state police, in the course of keeping the mob from exiting the NIT gates, lathi-charged few of the students. Later on, the Home Ministry deployed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The outstation students also demanded that the campus be shifted outside the valley, which ofcourse has been denied by the HRD Ministry.
Incidents such as these makes one wonder that how did even India manage to stay a democracy all these years? Sir John Strachey, a member of Governor General’s Council in British India, once told in a Cambridge lecture, ‘Scotland is more like Spain than Bengal is like the Punjab. . . This is the first and most essential thing to learn about India – that there is not, and never was an India.’ The vast diversity among Indian states made it impossible to think of them as one single nation. The name ‘India’ was merely used a label for convenience. Today, it is only because of the vision of our great leaders that we are able to breathe in a free India.
Attaining freedom was just the beginning, the actual problems had just begun, one of which was integration of princely states into the newly independent nations. A lot of politics happened over the accession of Princely states, which of the two newly born countries they should accede to, India or Pakistan? The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh had decided to stay independent unless any one nation deliberately tried to use violence against the Princely state; in that case it would accede to the other nation.However, following the attacks by Pakistan tribes, he wired Indian Government for military assistance. In return, he signed the document of accession on 26October, 1947.
Sheikh Abdullah, who had graduated from Aligarh Muslim University, emerged as the popular face among the people. During the Maharaja’s rule, he could not bag a government job despite his qualifications, as the administration at that time was dominated by Hindus. Through his personal experience, he had learnt that the only solution to this issue was turning Kashmir into a secular space. Thus he wanted the J&K not only for Muslims, but for the Hindus and Sikhs as well.
This brings us back to the irony of our present situation, where we are not even capable of watching a cricket match together, which apparently is meant to be fun. It is amusing how a simple game of cricket can culminate into people raising freedom slogans. This highlights what has been brewing in the valley from a long time, the simmering anger amongst the Kashmiri youth against the wrongs done to them under the garb of AFSPA and ultimately the demand for freedom. Armed Forces Special Powers Act was implemented in the valley on July 5, 1990, when the government had failed to maintain the law and order situation. This opaque piece of legislation might have been necessary at that time, but the present situation is different. It must be withdrawn from peaceful areas for starters, and subsequently, the legislation must be amended to make the armed forces accountable for the human rights abuse.
Instead of letting this incident just go as an another ‘incident of student activism’, which has been trending off-late, the Central Government must ponder over, that why the majority people of Kashmir, who were once ready to join India, today demand freedom from the same India? The present generation of Kashmiris has encountered the dark side of AFSPA and gone through the stigma of human rights abuse attached to it. And it is quite difficult to view things from a rational and neutral perspective once the personal loss is attached to the problem. I know it is too much to ask of the people of Kashmir, but few things must be forgiven, if not forgotten, for one’s own better future.
India has dealt with communal and sectarian ideologies in the past as well and always survived in the end; the people of India have always loved it back despite everything. India shall always stand as one pluralist and democratic nation, no matter what comes in it's way. As Ramchandra Guha writes in his book, India after Gandhi, “In Uri, sixty miles from Srinagar, there was a grave of a Christian soldier from Travancore, which had the Vedic Swastika and a verse from the Quran inscribed on it. There could be ‘no more poignant and touching symbol of the essential oneness and unity of India’.”