Are Kashmiris soft targets?
BIG BITE BY JAVAID MALIK
Assailants firing upon a Kashmiri student, Shabir Ahmed of Botengo Sopore, at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, BJP ruled state, sent shock waves across JK. Shabir luckily survived the deadly assault and is presently recuperating. The news created panic among parents, whose children are studying in various universities across MP. A day after Shabir was attacked two students hailing from Jammu’s Rajouri district had a narrow escape after two motorcycle borne youth chased them.
Kashmiri students pursuing their studies in MP have been constantly saying that they are feeling insecure and they are being looked upon as suspects. It seems Kashmir being a conflict ridden area has made Kashmiris a soft target for activists of various rightwing groups, who, according to media reports, leave no opportunity to harass them.
After Shabir was attacked Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, wasted no time and called up his counterpart in MP, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, to inquire about the attack. “Spoke to the CM of MP regarding Ujjain shooting of Kashmiri youth….he has assured guilty will be punished and other Kashmiri boys’ safety also,” Omar had tweeted.
Daily Bhaskar in its Indore edition had reported that Madhya Pradesh’s Minister of State for Home, Uma Shankar Gupta, has asked Ujjain police to arrest the accused at the earliest. However, Gupta had said that there was no need to issue a new advisory. “There is no need for it (advisory). I just want the police to get the matter properly investigated,” he had said.
The IGP Ujjain Upendra Jain, according to the daily, had said Shabir had sustained injuries on the neck as some pellets from locally made pistol had hit him, but he was quick to add that all possible angles were being investigated.
Over 500 Kashmiri youths are pursuing various courses in the institutes affiliated to the Vikram University, Ujjain, the daily had reported.
Omar speaking to his counterpart over the issue seems to have had some kind of impact over the people who rule MP. Apparently it seems so. But one can imagine the plight of over 500 Kashmiri students who are studying and putting up in MP. A few of them who spoke to the Valley based media organizations over phone seemed terrified and looked as if they were regretting their decision to choose MP for pursuing their studies.
When rightwing groups in 2011 had launched a campaign in Madhya Pradesh to keep Kashmiri students out of the state Omar had tweeted: “Disgraceful: Hindutva groups campaign to keep Kashmiri students out of MP.”
“There are apprehensions among the parents not to send their wards outside the state because of the harassment they (youth) face outside the state. I appealed Chief Ministers of all the states of India not to look Kashmiris with the suspicion of militants. Every Sikh was not a terrorist; similarly every Kashmiri is not a terrorist,” Omar had said.
One wonders why being a Kashmiri has become a stigma and why do the Kashmiris have to face the wrath of someone or the other once they cross the border of Jammu and Kashmir. There have been many instances in the past when residents of the Valley had to pay through their nose to avoid trouble. In the recent past two businessmen from Srinagar reportedly had to grease the palms of Punjab policemen to save their skins, while a few of them were looted in broad daylight on way to New Delhi.
Is it Kashmiris who leave JK for studies or business purpose have accepted harassment as a part of their lives? If it is so then it is high time for Kashmiris to put their foot down and demand their basic rights which have been promised to them. If JK, according to New Delhi and its leaders, is an integral part of India then why people of Kashmir have to face harassment at every step once they disclose their identity or after they are identified. One needs to ask these leaders is JK minus its inhabitants the integral part of India or its residents do figure somewhere in the integral part claim.
Kashmiris being harassed is not a new phenomenon, Omar’s predecessor, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister of JK, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had written to the Chief Ministers of different states about the harassment faced by Kashmiri youth and he had requested them to ensure that it is stopped.
It is unfortunate that a common Kashmiri is finding it very hard to handle the situation whether in JK or outside. In the Valley any force personnel—hailing from any state--can ask a Kashmiri to prove his identity anywhere, it can be city centre Lal Chowk or frontier district of Kupwara. Last two decades of turmoil have made an identity card a necessity. When a person from the Valley crosses Lakhanpur his identity makes him vulnerable and a soft target for such people who believe that by propagating hatred towards people of Kashmir they are serving their national interest. Such elements need to bear one thing in mind that a vicious campaign launched by them adds to the alienation among Kashmiris and by doing so they are pushing the people of this unfortunate land to the wall. If they don’t change their attitude it can have serious repercussions.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jan 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jan 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Jan 2012 00:00:00 IST
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