SRINAGAR: The row over Jawaharlal Nehru University protests has cast a shadow on Jammu and Kashmir with several youngsters studying in the national capital returning to their homes in the Valley, following alleged harassment by the Delhi Police.

Senior separatist leaders including the veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani Wednesday warned of launching an agitation over the issue even as a steady trickle of students enrolled in different colleges and universities in New Delhi began returning home to escape the "police harassment".

"It has become unsafe. My family was worried after they heard that police has started profiling Kashmiris who participated in pro-Afzal Guru protests. After consulting friends and teachers, I decided to return home. I will go back once the situation is normalised," a student of the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia, who didn't want to be identified, told The Citizen.

According to reports, the Delhi Police has identified around 30 students from Kashmir Valley who participated in the events held at JNU and Delhi Press Club in the last week to commemorate the death anniversaries of 2001 parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat.

"The cops were checking on campuses in civvies. We are overtly and covertly harassed. It has become impossible to move outside the campus due to the atmosphere of terror created by the BJP and its proxy groups. So I decided to return home. I don't want to ruin my career," a student of JNU, wishing anonymity said.

Condemning the registration of "false and fabricated case" against Prof SAR Geelani, who was remanded to 14-day judicial custody on Wednesday in a sedition case booked in connection with a pro-Kashmir protest at Delhi Press Club, the Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani expressed apprehensions that the professor and Kashmiri students will be made "scapegoats".

"The Delhi police on the directions of RSS have made the lives of the Kashmiri students as hell. If the SAR Geelani and other arrested people are not released forthwith and the harassment of the Kashmiri students does not stop, we will call for protest in Kashmir against that and it will have serious consequences," Geelani said.

In a statement, Geelani expressed concern over growing intolerance in India, saying that the country is becoming unsafe for minorities and lower caste Hindus whose lives, property and dignity is in "acute danger".

The JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik also condemned the registration of sedition case against Prof Geelani and "hounding, nocturnal raids and harassment" of Kashmiri students in Delhi.

"It has been an old habit of Indian rulers and their authorities to harass Kashmiris and intimidate them. This time also police is trying to make Kashmiri students as scapegoats and is hence playing with their careers,” Malik said in a statement.

Malik said if the authorities don't stop harassing Kashmir students, his group will launch a protest. “Kashmiris have and will resist this kind of Indian terrorization and we want to assure Kashmir students studying in India that whole of Kashmir stand behind them,” he said.

(Photo courtesy Samim Asgor Ali)