Clashes Break Out In Punjab Over Kashmiri Students Cheering Pakistan

28 August 2014

New Delhi: The issue of Kashmiri students cheering Pakistan during cricket matches has surfaced again with clashes breaking out in a college in Punjab over the issue. An NDTV report said, '12 students at a private engineering college in Punjab were injured after clashes erupted over Kashmiri students cheering for Pakistan in a cricket match against Sri Lanka.' The report said that the college has been shut till 8 September over the issue. A similar issue had snowballed into a controversy in March when around 60 Kashmiri students at Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut were expelled for three days from the hostel after they had allegedly supported Pakistan cricket team against India in the Asia Cup match between the two sides on Sunday last, an action that sparked an outrage in Kashmir Valley. First sedition charges were slapped on the students and were later withdrawn. The BJP had criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for withdrawing sedition charges against Kashmiri students, saying the SP government is only bothered about vote bank. Pakistan was quick to comment on the issue. They had said 'If these Kashmiri students want to come and pursue their studies in Pakistan, our hearts and academic institutions are open to them.' However, the students had refused. Jamaat-ud-Dawaa founder Hafiz Saeed, wanted by India in connection with the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, appeared on TV channels criticising India for the sedition charges against the students. He had praised the Pakistan foreign ministry for offering the students to come here and study. The Meerut incident had reopened a festering wound - the poor conditions in Kashmir and because of that the Kashmiri hatred for India. An article in Firstpost had reported that support for the Pakistani cricket team is nothing new in Kashmir. The truth is that in many Kashmiri households, if India plays Kenya, they will celebrate a Kenyan win. It is seen as another way of expressing anger against the Indian state, a reflection of an unresolved political struggle running through decades of conflict. Education infrastructure in the Valley is pathetic to say the least and hence many students study in other parts of India. The government of India, by providing scholarships to Kashmir students, wanted to build bridges. These campuses were foreseen as the harbinger of change among the new generation of Kashmiri students, Firstpost had reported. Incidents like the one in Meerut and now in Punjab only alienate Kashmiris from other parts of India. As reported by Firstpost 'the authorities in Meerut might have thought it fit to send the Kashmiri students back home to avert any possibility of clashes between the two groups but unfortunately, it has once again widened the gulf that the architects of the Prime Minister's Scholarship Scheme were so keen to bridge.'