April 2017 News

After Threats, Kashmiri Scholar Says Won't Return To BITS-Pilani

23 April 2017
The Indian Express
Adil Akhzer

Chandigarh: Hashim Sofi spent only 20 days on the campus of Birla Institute of Technology & Science(BITS), Pilani after joining as a research fellow in the pharmacy department. Today, the 27-year-old from north Kashmir's Bandipora is back home, saying he doesn't want to return following alleged death threats and harassment at the hands of unidentified people in the college hostel on Friday. Hashim, who reached his home in Bandipora on Saturday, told The Indian Express over phone that on Friday morning he discovered threats and hate messages on the door of his hostel room. 'I immediately informed the hostel superintendent and asked him to look into it. There were very unfortunate wordsthat had been written,' he said. Although the faculty assured Hashim of an investigation into the hate messages, his harassment did not end with the messages on the door. 'It was a double shock for me when I saw that even my clothes that I had left in the balcony after washing had words like 'anti-national Kashmiri' written on them. This was about 30 minutes after I had read the messages on the door.' The college authorities later shifted Hashim to a different accommodation, but his family asked him to return immediately. 'My family members were also shocked at what had happened after I told them about the incident. They wouldn't listen to me and asked me to return,' he said. 'I left the college in the afternoon and reached Delhi by evening. I stayed overnight in Delhi and reached Bandipora on Saturday.' Jhunjhunu Superintendent of Police Surendra Gupta told The Indian Express, 'There was no incident involving beating He had some problems when some students commented about his t-shirt and his Kashmiri origin. After that he complained and asked to get his room changed and that was done.' Hashim said he had no idea about the people who were behind the incident. 'I did not have much time to interact with the students there, but I think people in India are angry with Kashmiris. The outside environment against any Kashmiri is hostile I think Delhi is safe, even south India, but states like Rajasthan are not safe for Kashmiris anymore,' he said. Despite being assured of security by college authorities and being repeatedly called by the administration over phone, he has decided not to go back to the institute. 'My family is relaxed now because I have reached back safely. My life is more important. I've decided that I won't go back at least to this college ever,' he said.

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