India's WorldT20 Loss Creates Tension In Jammu And Kashmir
NEW DELHI: Amid simmering tensions, the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar was closed indefinitely on Friday with the management asking the students, majority of them from outside Jammu and Kashmir, to vacate the hostels.
The move comes following heated arguments between non-local and Kashmiri students after India's loss at the hands of West Indies on Thursday evening in the second semi final of the T20 World Cup.
Celebrations erupted across Kashmir after India was knocked out of the WT20 tournament. In the summer capital, jubilant youths came out on the streets, burst firecrackers and danced to celebrate the Windies' win. At many places in the Valley, the celebrations continued till midnight.
According to a J&K police officer, the Kashmiri students at the institute came out of their rooms overnight to celebrate the victory, which was objected by the non-local students, resulting in heated arguments between the two sides.
The two sides traded allegations and counter-allegations of assault against each other. However, the campus grew tense on Friday when police and CRPF personnel burst teargas canisters to disperse the sloganeering students.
A non-local student, who didn't want to be named, said the Kashmiri students assaulted them and also hurled stones, resulting in injuries to some of them, "When the police came in, instead of Kashmiri students, they lathi-charged us because we were shouting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'," he said.
The police however denied the charges.
A video of the events on Friday circulated on social media shows two groups of students inside the campus, one shouting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' amid waving national flags while another shouting 'Hum Kya Chahtay Azadi, separated by a distance of some 100 metres.
The video shows non-local students going on a rampage as police burst teargas shells, damaging the vehicles of locals parked in the campus. Police said it is investigating whether locals from outside the campus participated in stone-pelting which sparked clashes on the campus.
A Kashmiri student, who didn't want to be named, told The Citizen that the events of Friday are rooted in the celebrations that broke out on the campus when India defeated Pakistan in the group clash of the World Cup.
During the celebrations, he said, the non-local students burst out of their hostel rooms, exploded firecrackers in gardens and shouted inflammatory slogans. "Some Kashmiri students were also heckled during the celebrations which caused tension on the campus," he said.
According to officials, around 1500 non-local students, who far outnumber the local students, are enrolled in various engineering courses offered by the only national engineering institute in Jammu and Kashmir.
"This is an alien place for us. There is an unwritten rule of servitude written for local students. You have to keep your head down. Once you step on the campus, it is an entirely different life," the local student, who is in the final year of his engineering course, said.
"But enough is enough. The events have given us an opportunity to speak out. If they can celebrate India's victory, why can't we cheer for West Indies? Which article of the constitution says that you have to support Indian cricket team?," he added.
The management of the institute and the police are holding talks with the warring groups to cool tempers. Meanwhile, the institute has also ordered an internal probe into the matter.
(Cover photo: A dejected Virat Kohli stands on the field after India's loss. Credit: ESPN)