Kashmiri students fleeing attacks worried about loss of academic session

Kashmiri students fleeing attacks worried about loss of academic session

We don’t know how many students have returned: Advisor Ganai

Danish Sheikh, a resident of Soura who was pursuing engineering in Mohali, Punjab, said despite threats from rightwing groups, he had no plans of returning home till a friend of his was beaten up right in front of the principal and warden.

“That was the moment I realized it is time to go home. Obviously, we are worried about disruption in studies,” he said.

Danish is one of about 2500 Kashmiri students who have returned to the Valley after a wave of xenophobic attacks on Kashmiris in several states. Many Kashmiris were beaten up and their properties damaged by rightwing groups after more than 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in a fidayeen attack last week in Pulwama district.

According to chairman of Private Schools Association (PSA) GN Var, who heads an amalgam of various coaching centers and private schools in the state, the situation is “alarming”.

“Figures with us suggest that around 2500 Kashmiri students have returned to their homes. The number could be higher considering we only have data of the students who are in touch with us,” said Var.

Annually, PSA data said, more than 11000 Kashmiri students pursue their studies in outside states and abroad. A survey conducted by the PSA in 2014 said Rs 1250 crore is spent annually on admission and fees by Kashmiris in colleges and universities of the outside states and abroad. The figure, PSA said, has reached over Rs 2000 cr this year.

A volunteer from Jammu, Tariq Hussain Bali, who has been helping Kashmiri students return home, said on an average 35 to 50 students were arriving daily in the state.

“We have rescued close to 1000 students from Rajasthan, Punjab, Goa, and Haryana. They include students from Doda and Chenab valley as well,” said Bali.

Shahid Sharif, one of 50 students to reach Jammu today, said he is in the second year of the civil engineering course at a college in Mohali, Punjab.

A resident of HMT, Srinagar, he said, “There was fear. We worry for our careers but what could we do in such an atmosphere. They were saying ‘wapas jao.’ ”

Sharief said he regrets his decision to study outside but “there was no other option also” because of limited number of colleges in the Valley.

Advisor to Governor Khursheed Ahmad Ganai said the government doesn’t have the data on the number of students who have returned.

“It is difficult to find out. We are in touch with our liaison officers. A lot of students are leaving without informing the officers,” said Ganai.

About the attacks on Kashmiri students, Ganai said: “There have been incidents in Uttarakhand, a few incidents in HP, a few in Haryana, quite a few in Punjab and Chandigarh. In Aligarh there has been only one case of harassment. There has been no student exodus from Bangalore. There have been complaints in Bangalore, where some people have been booked.”

He said the state government will take up the issue of loss of academic time with the Union ministry of human resources development and the chief ministers of these states.

“It is up to the authorities of these colleges to agree to state government’s request. I will advise students to return to their colleges without delay as soon as the situation returns to normal,” Ganai said.