#NIT: Techno Brawl and Media’s Baja

Bilal Handoo

Media crews outside NIT Hazratbal.
Media crews outside NIT Hazratbal.

Behind the closed gates of NIT Srinagar, a sense is building in student community that the current unrest is being flared up by an “ultra-nationalist” media and politicians to revive “campus unrest” in Kashmir in the backdrop of unrest at JNU, where K-factor was reported as an instant trigger behind the tempers.

But this silent campus mood is unlikely to make it to studies in Delhi—that earlier parachuted outstation cast and crew to Srinagar to comprehend: aakhir, what set the Dal Lake campus on fire?

Last time when the troupe was in Kashmir, they had reported floods with a different spin and ended up gulfing the perceptive wedge. And now, they are back to cover, this time, a campus brawl through an apparent war prism.

The advent came with a pinch of salt for local manpower, feeling disgruntled at the moment. In the din of PTCs, not many noted how the sidelined local crew reacted: “So, basically, we have been hired to cover encounters?!”

But despite their high-octane arrival, the dogged patrolling of watchful cops kept blocking the advances of parachute journalists. Once done with piece to camera, the new troupe was seen getting creative, dialling some campus contacts to air some moment of rage. But prying eyes of cops continuously played a spoilsport.

As this gate-keeping Saturday entered into its ninth day, the impression given is that the campus is heading toward a wartime crisis. None had thought the intensity of the matter, beginning with the “Champion” dance in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

With the dawn of April 1, the campus mood had become polarised—as if, such things were blasphemous in the campus before. Shortly, a swarm of the outstation students arrived at the director’s doors, demanding “sedition charge” against the local “calypsos”. Moments later, the director’s “shrugged off” approach stirred up the unrest. Instead of managing the “boys” – future ‘technocrats’ – the director rang up the police.

What followed was quite uncharacteristic of NIT: rally, tricolour, rumbling, vandalising, bashing. Perhaps, like any campus event, the matter could have been ended there only. But for some unknown reasons, the brawl kept brewing, until it became a ‘battle’.

To strike some discipline, police came caning the student crowd. The act swiftly earned cops a media-lynch, emanating from Delhi studies. Suddenly, JK’s Khaki brigade became for Delhi media, what Marilyn Manson famously quoted once: “I’m not a role model. I’m a role villain.”

Firoz YahyaDays before JKP would react saying—we don’t need certificate of nationalism—the media-trail had reduced the 100 thousand strength force into a ‘punching bag’, “whose loyalties lie across the borders”.

Perhaps that was a weird conclusion to draw. In the moment of heat, the ‘lynch-media’ conveniently forgot: Isn’t it the same police force, who enforced calm in valley and Delhi called it “peace” all these years? It was under this sense, some raised a big question—whose war are we fighting? Even Kashmiris jumped into the debate, telling JKP that natives and non-natives are two different entities! They look the same but are “masters” and “the ruled”.

SSP Imtiyaz Hussain Twitter Account

In between, the manner campus issue was monitored, managed and mugged up by media highlights the hasty conclusions drawn in the fit of desperation to get sensational scoops. Even politics hastily owned the unrest. Otherwise, as many ask, what was Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s role in the campus trouble, which could have been aptly managed by the campus warden itself? Curiously, Rajnath Singh’s tweet in this case came faster than in high-voltage JNU unrest.

Now, the “national” media’s mounting NIT prod is breaking many students into a fit of giggles. The larger/saner sense still prevails in NIT that the motive behind the present unrest lies in some deep-rooted political brains.

ITDespite the “unseen force at play”, the positive thing remains, the bonhomie of pre-unrest days continues to exist in the campus. Amid amicability, the outstation girl students are ridiculing the rape threats claimed, reported by the “national” media. Interestingly, the “rape threat” was delivered to an outstation girl student by a girl classmate!

“I am studying in NIT from last three years and throughout my stay, I found Kashmiris the most harmless tribe around,” says Shikha, an outstation student. “I believe national media is creating unnecessary hype around the issue. No one received a rape threat here. It is ridiculous to even claim that.”

ToiIn the same breath, the outstation students admit that some of the demands presented aren’t “feasible”—like shifting of the campus. “Actually, all we want is some action against police and 50:50 ratio in campus faculty,” says Abhijeet, another outstation student. “The moment administration agrees on these points, we will resume our classes.”

Amid standoff in the present militarised campus, a group of local and outstation students are mulling to take out a solidarity march towards Hyderpora. The idea behind the march is to seek the Hurriyat patriarch, Syed Ali Geelani’s intervention to end the unrest. The man they are planning to call has already dismissed the campus situation as an outcome of “integration”—the moment REC was turned into NIT.

Interestingly, long before the outstation students of NIT would shout—this isn’t India—the Hyderpora had warned: “Integration has its own costs.”

Time to consult Hyderpora.

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