The cultural programme at JNU to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Garu and Maqbool Bhat has snowballed into a controversy.
Both the so-called secularists and the nationalists are trying to script their own narratives of political opportunism and treachery to fool the masses. In this ongoing saga of nationalist and anti-nationalist, both the ideological groups play the rhetoric to battle and cover their past. Now to further satisfy their collective nationalism, they are hounding and heckling people with the critical understanding, who often challenge the mainstream myths related to Kashmir and NE regions.
In this epic war of ideologies, the most collateral damage is the alleged seditious Kashmiri students studying in various varsities across India particularly in New Delhi. They are not safe, neither at home, where they suffer in silence because of the unending fear psychosis and harassment, nor outside.
Anything related to Kashmir is manufactured into a huge controversy by vicious Indian media. However JNU row has a direct Kashmir connection as Shehla Rashid Shora, vice-president of JNU students Union, who hails from Srinagar, has become a prominent voice.
However her role in the ongoing agitation doesn’t mean that every Kashmiri student must subscribe or categorize themselves in this tirade of nationalism.
The only objective to be part of such an event is to tell their unheard stories, remove common clichés in the Indian audience.
But the way hysteria is manufactured and broadcasted by people in power free spaces and free voices may shrink and disappear because of fear.
To echo the sentiment, and share the platform with the similar ideological forces might be tough and dangerous given the current intolerant atmosphere particularly for a Kashmiri student.
Interestingly, students launched a high-voltage campaign to get Kanhaiya out, but forget to talk about S A R Gilani – a Kashmiri charged under the same seditious law.
Kashmiris studying outside are not only excelling in their studies, but have become the ambassadors of their culture, cause; unlike the students and teachers in the holy Kashmir University.
Ironically, just because they didn’t study at KU, their degrees are often looked down in the state institutions and are often referred to as ‘the bad eggs’.
As the pendulum of success stories are swinging in their favor the self styled jury are all of a sudden eulogizing and appreciating their daredevil and academic achievements. It’s not easy to study in a hostile atmosphere where you are vulnerable to harassment and fear if you raise your voice and demand the basic rights.
Post JNU row will have multiple consequences for Kashmiri students who study in various varsities of India.
According to media reports Kashmiri students are harassed by the ‘Men in Khaki’ making them leave their studies and come home.
It won’t stop there, people staying in rented flats, hostels etc. may come under scanner.
Last year Kashmiri engineering students at Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, Meerut were suspended for cheering Pakistan team during a cricket match.
Police started profiling of every Kashmiri students officially after that incident.
For a Kashmiri student things will be worse in future unless you first align yourself with any nationalist groups. It is quite evident in the case of Umar Khalid, another JNU comrade, who has spoken publicly against the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the progressive voices only began to protest the allegations against him after his associates made it clear that he self-identified as an atheist and a communist.
Since the day controversy erupted, there has been a sense of fear among students from Kashmir, not because pro-freedom slogans resonated in the power corridors of Delhi but the way jingoism and hate is repeatedly broadcasted in media may make Kashmir students face the ire of fringe elements.