From Meerut to home: A PMSSS student details his exile

RIYAZ UL KHALIQ

SRINAGAR

The students ‘rusticated’ by a University in Meerut are finally home on Wednesday after a treacherous journey. Many of them are still in Jammu. Pertinently, Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, Meerut ‘rusticated’ more than hundred students following an Indo-Pak cricket match last Sunday. Pakistan won the nail biting match and soon Kashmiris faced the music of brewed anger of loss in non-Kashmiri students.

A student from South Kashmir pursuing B.Tech from the university, who wished to remain anonymous, narrates his and his mates’ ordeal to Kashmir Life soon after he reached Valley.

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We are almost 200 students from Jammu and Kashmir studying in Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, Meerut. And most of us are studying on Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship for Kashmiri students that was launched post 2010 uprising.

Most of the Kashmiris are studying engineering and are residing in two hostels of the university, MLD and VHR, respectively. Every Kashmiri who was putting up in these two hostels have been rusticated. Some Kashmiris are residing as ‘Paying Guests’ outside the university.

In MLD hostel, students of first, third and final years are putting up while second year students live in VHR hostel, respectively.

All students whether Kashmiris or non Kashmiris would watch Television in ‘common room’ of the hostel. And likewise, when the ongoing Asia Cup started, we started watching it.

Last Sunday, as India was facing Pakistan in Asia cup, huge number of students turned up to watch it. The space was little and the television had to be shifted to open around MLD hostel.

Before the start of the match, senior non-Kashmiri students had suggested Warden (of the two hostels) that he should not allow students to watch the match. They had sensed ‘trouble’. But Warden had made it clear to them that it was just a cricket match and nothing else. But ‘just a cricket match’ at the end rusticated us, Kashmiris.

A few days before this cricket match, we watched two other matches also between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won and the non-Kashmiri students teased and hooted at us (Kashmiris). And when Pakistan team won against Afghans, they (non-Kashmiris) congratulated us and signalled about the scheduled Indo-Pak cricket match. “Ab dekhtein hain uss din,” they shouted on us pointing towards Indo-Pak cricket match we were about to watch.

But senior non-Kashmiris students were forcing Warden to switch off the television. We could not understand what they were pointing to. But Kashmiri students demanded that they should be given a separate TV set to watch that match.

Television was given and Warden directed that if anybody wishes to support any of the team, support peacefully!

Everything was going on smoothly until 42 over! The situation turned uneasy soon after that. By that time, position of Pakistan in the match appeared weak. Our non-Kashmiri classmates started shouting slogans against Pakistan and against us! Our faces changed. We were seated in the back, watching calmly. But the changed mood at the venue unnerved us.

The non-Kashmiri students started hulla bulla. They started dancing, singing songs.

It all went on till 49 over finished. And then, first ball of the 50 over and Ajmal (Pakistani player) was gone. The scenes at the venue then changed drastically. Every one of them stood up and chanted slogans in favour of India and started abusing Pakistan. They took TV under their control. We were silent, as if non-existent.

Sensing trouble, Warden tried to switch off the TV but he was held hostage by non-Kashmiris. They did not allow him to do that. Security guards too appeared helpless.

But when Afridi (Pakistani Batsman) smashed two consecutive balls out of boundary, situation again changed. Pin drop silence fell. All celebrations were cut-short.

Understandably, senior Kashmiri students took their juniors out of the venue and asked them to put up in their respective rooms. But non-Kashmiri students had other plans. They started abusing us. We were branded as “terrorists”. They called us Pakistanis and asked us to “go Pakistan”.

We did no sloganeering. Though, heated argument exchanged between the two groups. Like rabid dogs, they spit all their venom on us. God save us from the abuses they showered on us!

When Kashmiris went to their respective hostel, VHR, they were apprehended by some non-Kashmiri students. A first-year Kashmiri student informed senior on phone. Chairs were thrown on Kashmiris. The anger was brewing, but seniors Kashmiris managed to maintain emotions of juniors.

Soon, we reached the spot and after intervening got them out of their clutches. All the second-year students were taken to top floor of VHR hostel. Meanwhile, locals tried to attack us again but Warden intervened and saved us.

And much to our shock, stone pelting started. We were on the top floor and stones were pelted on us from all the sides. Some window panes were broken, though no casualty was reported. Warden again came and asked the attackers to leave the venue. He consoled frightened Kashmiris and took stock of the damage.

It was already 2 in the morning. Thereafter, Warden escorted Kashmiris to their respective rooms. And somehow the night passed peacefully after that. But most of us were frightened throughout that night.

And next morning, only Kashmiri students turned up for classes. The non-Kashmiris were on strike! And they had put up banners reading: “Kashmiris are Pakistanis, Send them to Pakistan.”

While all this drama was going on, some of our Kashmiri students who were still in hostels called and informed us that notices had been pasted, reading: “All Kashmiri students residing in MLD and VHR hostels are rusticated from University for three (3) days.”

This was shock for us. We were taken aback by the diktat and all of us were thinking: “what wrong had we done?”

We went back to our hostels and to our surprise, the authorities asked us to vacate the hostels.

At around 1 pm in the day, teachers asked us to take food in hurry and leave the campus! We were in front of the dining hall (Mess). All of us assembled there. Teachers changed their statements and directed us to be in our rooms. And after that, they would call a meeting to sort out the problem, ‘amicably’.

But we did not attend our classes in the latter part of the day. And at 5:15 pm, when we were sipping tea, police reached the campus with huge number of cops, with many trucks and wantons!

They were accompanied by Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dean, Chief Proctor, Warden and two other members of Kashmir Committee. Kashmir Committee deals with the problems of Kashmiri students studying in the university.

All of them ordered us to “leave campus in just two minutes”. But we resisted, and asked for the reasons behind our forcible eviction. But they didn’t heed and commanded us to leave without asking any explanations.

We went to our rooms and Chief Proctor came there and again ordered us to vacate within five minutes. “We’ll take you back just after three days,” he said. “We have been ordered by higher ups!”

In the state of freight and panic, we contacted Deputy VC again. But he refused to listen anything. “Leave the campus, now. Else, we’ll use police and Lathi charge,” he warned.

The administration had kept ready two university owned vehicles.

When we asked Deputy VC that shall we report back on fourth day, he back tracked and said, “No! Go your homes for one week, and then contact us.”

Our exams were to start only two days after. We resisted the move. They forcibly vacated us from the hostels and forced us to board the two buses. The Deputy VC didn’t listen a single word from us rather put whole blame on us. We had not packed up our belongings. No wallets, no ATM cards, nothing. But nobody listened. One of our fellows had gone to market to purchase some essential. The officials did not wait for him.

Almost every one of us were running out of money, as it was just start of a new month. Our parents usually send us money by tenth of every month.

Vehicles started and police escorted our cabs. Two members of Kashmir Committee accompanied us. We informed them that we had no money. They assured us that we will be given money to reach home.

It was already 6 in the evening when we reached Ghaziabad stand. As we stepped down, huge number of police and CRPF forces had cordoned off the area. We were shocked, rather frightened. It was like some wanted militants were being taken somewhere.

Here, we were given one Samosa and two pieces of sweets each, and few water cases for hundred students.

The accompanying officials asked us to book tickets but we had no money and rather asked for money. We were informed that each student would be given Rs 300 to go home. It was humiliation and nothing else. We demanded that at least full fare should be given to us, which they did not. Though, they had said that the money, if they had given us, was to be refunded.

While all this was going on, we suggested that we should be given one non-stop vehicle to Kashmir. They whispered something to the driver who took us at Kashmiri Gate in New Delhi. It was 9:45 pm.

One of our mates had gone to New Delhi. As we were forced to leave the campus, he had reached the hostel but found no one there. Police cab which was already in the campus brought him to Ghaziabad Bus Stand.

As we reached Kashmiri Gate, the two buses took different routes. One of the buses reached at Platform number one and other at Platform number fifteen. The accompanying officials informed us that money has been handed over to our seniors travelling in other bus. And later we came to know that the same story was told to students in other bus. They were dodging us. Actually, they deceived us!

Soon, we were forced to de-board the buses. They left and asked us to search for the other students. When we met, we heard the same story from the students travelling in other bus. We fought accusing each other of trusting Kashmir Committee members. But we understood that we had been cheated.

We called Kashmir Committee members on phone. They replied, “doondo pansay” and hung up the phone. Thereafter, their cell remained switched off. Tension gripped us. It was only panic all around. But we found some hope.

One of our mates had his cousin in New Delhi. He called him. His name is Aijaz. Aijaz reached the spot and asked all of us to accompany him for the night. He understood that we were facing short of money.

He was too generous. He helped us monetarily. And only then, we were able to book tickets for Jammu.

We divided ourselves in different groups to mange train fare. The train was scheduled to leave at 11:00 pm. But it came four hours late. We were cursing each other. Some even tried to go back. But the question was, would have they gone?

At 3:00 in the morning, our journey started. It has been the most troublesome journey ever for all of us. But, what we had to swallow the bitter pill.

It was too cold. But we had no other clothes except what we were wearing. Besides, our empty stomachs were troubling us.

On Tuesday at 4:00 in the evening, we reached Jammu. As we were searching for any vehicle to reach home, we got a call from our female classmates back at University.

After greetings, they gave us the bad news: “University newspaper that was published today reads that all Kashmiris studying in this university have been rusticated.”

This was nothing, but shocking. The reasons they had given were: “The students shouted anti-India slogans while watching an Indo-Pak match. They resorted to fighting among the students and broke furniture and chairs of the university.” They had also fabricated that Kashmiris distributed sweets among themselves when Pakistan beat India. All these things were done by non-Kashmiris, and not by us. This was ridiculous. How could we distribute sweets when situation was not normal?

The newspaper is owned and run by the University itself. It also read: “They must go to Pakistan for studies.”

Meanwhile, some electronic press reached us and we narrated our journey. Then we were searching for transport to reach home. We managed a semi-deluxe bus and we were to pay Rs 300 per head.

Some students did not come home as they feared to face annoyed parents back home. They went to their relatives residing in Jammu.

As we were moving helter-skelter, some leader from People’s Democratic Party came and listened to us. He took us to his headquarter. Gave us food and suggested that we stay put there till they contact chief minister of UP and they would be sent back only a day after. But we resisted and asked that we better go home till ‘the issue is sort amicably.’

The PDP leader paid our bus fare and put us in contact with Inspector General of traffic. The traffic was not to ply from Jammu-Srinagar but he managed it on emergency basis.

At 11:00 pm, we left. By 4:00 in the morning we were in Banihal and at 7:30 our final train to home chugged.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Only the people of Kashmir can solve this problem. Kashmiris must start to think themselves as Indians.The problem is that they never consider themselves as Indians.Some people either want a separate country or merge with Pakistan.The government of India spends huge amounts and provides special status to merge them with common Indians but the effort from the other side is just null!

  2. Why did the non-Kashmiris think you are outsiders at the first place?? There’s no smoke w/o fire. Having said that you should be welcomed back if you publicly praise India. To expect Indian citizens to praise India is a fair demand. Isn’t it?

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