By Uzair Qadri
The current cycle of violence inside the premises of my alma mater – Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU) – gives me pain. This is un-called for. Universities are meant for grooming young minds intellectually but the violent means are fatal.
The varsities are supposed for discussions, debates where one can agree or disagree but taking to means of violence is unfortunate, to say the least.
At the outset, let me express my displeasure at of news stories published by Kashmir Life regarding the current events at the varsity. I am writing this in response to: Again, BGSBU is in News; Know What led to Today’s Violence.
This ‘again’ in the reportage gives me enough reason to say that there is an “intentional fallacy” in even the basic reportage about the university.
The recurrent bouts of violence for one or the other reason haven’t got anything to do with the location of the varsity. Certainly; nobody can contest the locational disadvantage the university has had at the time of being established but everywhere in the world such things become a fond memory once things start ticking.
The BGSBU is located some ten kilometres away from the main town of Rajouri; 160 kilometres from the Jammu city and 142 kilometres from the summer capital Srinagar in the midst of Pir Panjal foothills, with greenery and open spaces all around but an ‘isolated’ place!
But with the provision of facilities, things have gone better, though many many more things are yet to be accomplished in order make the University a ‘notable one’. For doing so, it is imperative that the administration of the University, the students, former and current, the people of the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch, the people of Kashmir and Jammu provinces and above all, the government of the day put their heads together.
Considering that the varsity is only a little more than a decade old, problems are expected to crop up. Let’s accept that.
The intake capacity of the university is around 1200-1500, which has been increasing with the passage of time. Majority of the students are from Kashmir valley; but the number of students from Rajouri, Poonch and other districts of Jammu isn’t any less. In order to let the University grow, diversity of the students is important. Pluralism enriches a varsity’s learning environment.
The present incident of violence, an apt case of student vandalism, I read resulted out of misunderstanding between the students from the Jammu region and the Kashmir region. Whatever the nitty-gritty of the incident, the point is that such incidents leave a serious dent on the image of the varsity.
Many of the people I know, who have graduated out from the varsity, say it has not but that is surely a self-defeating argument. Criticism for the sake of criticism is meaningless. Those who criticise the University for no fault of the varsity itself are its greatest of the enemies. The point is that the fractures whatever there are, their roots need to be addressed, not just the manifestations.
Being honest, rather blunt enough, the fracture is because of some of the faculty members; some from Kashmir and others from Jammu, don’t respect the students! It is essential for grown-up students to be seen with a certain level of dignity.
Some years back, when I joined the varsity, some teachers used to repeatedly blare out during classes and exam time the phrase “fault at source” when asked about anything. Other disconcerting phrases used to be “rejected lot”, “garbage” etc. I expect that is not the case, now.
Such kind of diction has every possibility to let a student be depressed. Therefore, the behaviour of a teacher needs to show a degree of restraint so that students don’t feel alienated.
The environs of the University are so open, clean and rejuvenating, though a little boring in the initial phase of a student there, that one can learn things with a fair amount of carelessness. One can discuss, debate and differ with his/her friends and nobody can stop a student from doing so. Rather than cursing the place, a student should grab the value of the moment and focus on honing his/her skills.
Another very serious problem is attitude of the students from all the three places: Kashmir, Jammu and Poonch-Rajouri towards each other. Though some students are an exception here, but a large number of students from Kashmir “sub-humanise” the students from Rajouri-Poonch, even the general populace of the place.
Attaching racist sense towards Gujjars, which is a proud identity no doubt, and using words like unpad log (illiterate people) with unabashed abandon, ascribing every wrong to the simple living of the people of the place and bringing feudal notions into the discourse, is sure to destroy the serenity of any place, BGSBU can’t be an exception.
Let the students understand, with a relaxed mind that BGSBU is the safest place, especially for students from Kashmir, to receive education in the times when Kashmiri students have been attacked outside J&K.
The place remains unperturbed by the rough and tumble of Kashmir and Jammu. It also needs emphasis that students from Jammu also need to come in larger numbers. It will add to the competitive atmosphere.
For students and people from Rajouri-Poonch, it is vital to understand that the BGSBU has provided them with a superb opportunity to learn, let learn and upgrade their lives intellectually, sociologically, psychologically, and economically. BGSBU is a light to this historically neglected backyard of the Jammu and Kashmir state.
Let they, in particular, be ever-grateful to the founder-VC of the varsity. Words like “local Hai Yara” by students from the twin districts to intimidate and, at times, threaten others must be strongly dealt with by the authorities. There is no benefit in making the varsity a road-side Choupal.
If a University isn’t going to uplift the area, what is the purpose of having that? Let the people of the place understand that the BGSBU is a God-sent opportunity. Hold on to it with all the energy!
In the din of things, the varsity isn’t any less than a University in some urban area. It has got a very good library, which has books, magazines, journals and newspapers of the best quality.
I can’t think that it is any herculean task for a student to walk in the evenings and land up in the library for a while. Get bored and have coffee/tea at my favourite place Pir Pal Cafe or full fry-half fry at Sharma Uncle’s Canteen.
Why focus on things which aren’t but should be there. Let the students be content with what is available there and not cringe about what isn’t.
Last, not the least but most important: let the administration ensure that no outsider is let inside the main gate without proper procedure. Show no tolerance to any kind of violence. Be exemplary in the action taken.
Speed up the levers of its internal working like result-making process. Such things have potential to radically better the perception about the varsity.
Many more things need to be addressed. That surely some other day.
(Uzair Qadri, is an ex-student of COET, BGSBU.)