April 2016 News

Omar Abdullah On NIT Srinagar Row: Will Centre Intervene When Kashmiri Students Are Harassed Elsewhere?

6 April 2016
The Indian Express
Sushant Singh

New Delhi: Former chief minister Omar Abdullah says wrong precedent set by making these happenings at NIT a massive story, and having central forces and special teams from HRD ministry brought in. How do you look at the situation at NIT in Srinagar? Is it a small campus skirmish or something bigger? We tend to take these things out of proportions. Campus skirmishes are not unheard of, and as with JNU, the matter should have been left to the institute authorities to resolve. By bringing in extraneous elements, both security and administrative, we have created a situation with its own dynamics where politicians and wannabe politicians are now getting in. See, in Kashmir, for decades, after cricket matches, especially between India and Pakistan, such to-and-fro exchanges have happened and the authorities have resolved it. By making these happenings at NIT a massive story, and having central forces and special teams from HRD ministry brought in, we have set a wrong precedent. My bigger worry is about Kashmiri students in other parts of the country. Will we see calls to governors and CMs from the union home minister, PMO getting involved, HRD ministry sending special teams, CRPF being deployed when Kashmiri students are harassed elsewhere? In Rajasthan recently, it were the Kashmiri kids who were instead arrested on charges of eating meat. How do you justify this uneven response for Kashmiri students and for non-Kashmiri students? You expect a direct fallout from this incident at Kashmiri students in other parts of India? Yes, my fear is that it will be an open season on Kashmiri students in different campuses outside Kashmir. We have already seen students being arrested in Rajasthan; we have also had profiling and dossiers of Kashmiri students being prepared in West Bengal. Who knows what else will happen now? What is the way out to the NIT crisis? What would have you done? The government needs to get a grip on the situation and cooler heads should prevail. Let the authorities close NIT for a couple of weeks, get the hostels vacate and let tempers calm down. This is not unique. Such options have been exercised earlier so that things settle down. What do you make of CRPF replacing J&K police in the campus? Replacing J&K police with CRPF sends out a message that J&K police can't be trusted to provide security to non-state subjects. While it is OK for CRPF to thrash locals in Kashmir, students from outside Kashmir are very different for J&K police actions. Ideally, J&K police should have been complemented and supplemented by CRPF, and not replaced by it. You believe the CM, Mehbooba Mufti ordered the deployment of CRPF to NIT? There is a unified command headed by the CM which takes all such decisions. We would like to believe that she was consulted and this deployment was made with her approval. If not, then the BJP government at Delhi has disempowered a CM who has barely been in the chair for 48 hours. It sends a message that they have no confidence in the CM. The swiftness with which central teams have been sent is nothing but back seat driving of the state government. Did such incidents happen when you were the CM and you ordered the deployment of CRPF to NIT, Srinagar? I don't recall any such incident. In Kashmir University, there was little trouble once but we used the J&K police and never took this sort of action. Off hand, I don't recall any such incident in NIT in my time.