SRINAGAR: The suspension of three Kashmiri students by Aligarh Muslim University for allegedly offering in-absentia funeral prayers of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Manaan Wani has sparked a major controversy with J&K governor S P Malik stepping in to defuse the crisis.

Governor’s administration has taken up the “concern for well-being of Kashmiri students studying in Aligarh Muslim University with their administrative counterparts in Uttar Pradesh so that students can carry on with their studies in a safe and secure environment,” an official spokesperson said.

Over 1200 Kashmiri students at the prestigious institution in Aligarh have threatened to leave their studies after two of their colleagues - Waseem Ayub Malik and Abdul Hafeez Meer, were booked by UP Police on charges of sedition for attempting to hold in-absentia funeral prayers of Manaan.

A PhD scholar of Geology at AMU, Manaan, who joined militancy in January this year, was killed along with another militant in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district last week, sparking protests and shutdown in the Valley. At his alma mater, according to the FIR, Kashmiri students raised ‘Azadi’ and anti-India slogans while supporting a “terrorist”.

In a letter, however, the students have denied the allegations, “We refute these allegations and demand an end to defamation of highly-educated Kashmiri scholars. We demand an immediate revocation of suspension orders/show-cause notices and an urgent withdrawal of sedition charges and other legal sections against AMU scholars,” the students said.

The students have threatened that if their demands were not met, they would surrender their degrees en masse. “In case the suspension/show-cause notices are not revoked immediately and sedition charges and other charges are not withdrawn, we, will be forced to leave the campus en masse on Sir Syed Day (17 October 2018),” the students said.

“We are feeling threatened and challenged and our career is under stake, under such fearful circumstances,” they said.

Police yesterday detained firebrand MLA Engineer Rashid after he took out a rally in solidarity with Kashmiri students at AMU. Reports said Rashid along with his supporters took out a protest march from his official residence in the capital Srinagar area towards Lal Chowk, “As the march reached near the Zero Bridge in the Rajbagh area, policemen stopped the protestors and took the Rashid into custody,” reports said. He was later set free.

Meanwhile, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of moderate faction of Hurriyat also denounced the treatment meted out to Kashmiri students at AMU, “On the other hand sedition charges slapped on Kashmiri students as they are dismissed by AMU for offering ‘nimaz-e-jinaza’ of their senior MananWani! Is offering ‘nimaz-e-jinaza’ a crime in India now? Stop harassment of Kashmiri students!” he wrote on Twitter.