Non-Kashmiri students of Srinagar college allege bias
14 May 2000
New Delhi: NON-KASHMIRI STUDENTS of the Regional Engineering College, Srinagar, recently held a protest meeting in the Capital to demand migration to colleges outside the Valley. They say they are being discriminated against by the Kashmiri students and teaching faculty. The students, camping here for the past one month, claim they were subjected to physical violence by local students and fled their hostels after yet another skirmish between Kashmiri and outside students. ''All skirmishes are given a communal colouring. And the local Press always sides with the Kashmiri Muslim students,” says Sudhakar Reddy. Because of this, the students dread each India-Pakistan cricket match. ''Whenever India wins, we get thrashed,'' says another student, Keshari Kumar. Students claim that when they complained to their hostel manager, they were curtly told: ''You have to bear all these things in Kashmir as Kashmiri Muslims are sentimentally attached to Pakistan''. The students have another grouse too. The duration of their courses is being unduly stretched. Atreya Thapliyal, admitted to the college in 1997, said he is still in his fourth semester. ''At this rate, it will take us six to seven years to complete a four-year B.E. course” he fumed. Students claimed that when they approached a former principal of the college in this regard, they were told, ''Do not compare this REC with other RECs. This is Kashmir''. The students are now bitterly regretting their decision to join the college in Srinagar, and say they had been falsely assured that the situation there was normal. ''The Jammu and Kashmir Government doesn''t want us to migrate despite horrible conditions as it fears it will be an indicator that the situation in the Valley is fast deteriorating,'' lamented Deepak Singhal, a third-semester student. He claimed that after 250 students escaped the college, the rest of the non-Kashmiri students were being forced to remain within the premises for fear that they too would flee. The students said they had met several senior ministers in the Union Government but had only received assurances so far. They also pointed to the growing religious fundamentalism in the Valley and said that their hostel mess had been renamed Osama Bin Laden Mess. ''Whenever we organise a cultural function in the college, it gets branded as anti-Islamic, said Chaitanya Raju. He claimed that freshers from outside the Valley are forced to utter anti-Indian slogans as part of their ''ragging''.