Demanding immediate revocation of FIR against Kashmiri students, who were expelled from Meerut’s Swami Vivekanand Subharti University for cheering Pakistan cricket team, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday said the Uttar Pradesh government and the university authorities should apologise to them and restore their admissions without any delay.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, the PDP Chief Spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar said it was unfortunate that these young boys have been condemned without listening to their side of story. He said even if the version that that some students rooted for Pakistan is taken at its face value it does not merit criminal proceedings against the individuals. “After criminalising dissent, it seem s we headed for criminalising the expression of sportsman spirit as well, which is a scary development,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar said it is the right of an individual to cheer for the sports team or player he/she likes the most and the arbitrary action of the university authorities and of the UP government against the Kashmiri students is totally unwarranted, unacceptable. By doing so, Akhtar said, the attitude of intolerance has been taken to a new low, which in no case can conform to the spirit of a democratic nation.
“When cheering, clapping of VVIPs like PM, Dr Manmohan Singh or UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, for the Pakistan team doesn’t come under sedition, why only poor Kashmiri students should face the brunt?” he said adding this is the worst example of double-standards and fascist thinking.
Castigating the UP chief minister, Akhlesh Yadv, whose party claims to be the champions of minorities in the country and local unit BJP in Meerut, for going too harsh against these boys, Akhtar said it seems both parties have joined hands to destroy their careers. Stressing that their cases should be revoked and admissions restored, he said if not done it will otherwise compromise their future, which is in no way justifiable.
The chief spokesperson said from the sketchy reports appearing in media it seems that there is no case against the students as the university authorities slapped sedition case against unnamed students. The authorities had reportedly asked the students to name the so called “real culprits” which could not be done by them as there was none and therefore took collective punitive action against them. “This is against all tenets of law” said Akhtar.
Akhtar criticized the chief minister, Omar Abdullah for his remarks in which he had conceded that these boys had ‘done wrong’ for cheering Pakistan. “Omar Abdullah has justified the action of varsity authorities against the students. It is atrocious on his part to blame the students for the entire episode ,” he said and added it is Omar Abdullah himself, who has, actually, been on the forefront to demonise the entire young population of Kashmir, as stone pelters drug addicts, anti-nationals, criminals, for which they are paying heavy price both in and outside the state.
“Omar Abdullah has created a new stereotype Kashmiri image that is seen with suspicion everywhere” said Akhtar. He said the Chief Minister is guilty of starting the trend of registering FIR at the drop of a hat against Kashmir youth on charges of sedition and waging war against the country and sending teenagers into prison under PSA. He is left with no moral courage, Akhtar said.
He said if such a level of intolerance is practised at an institution, which is named after Swami Vivekananda, who an icon of tolerance and understanding that means we have landed in very bad times. He said such an unfortunate incident has happened in spite of repeated assurances by the state government that the interests of Kashmiris will be safe-guarded, where ever they are in the country. But, unfortunately, the helpline which the government had claimed to have started in this regard is nowhere in the existence, exposing the claims of the government as it failed even to respond to the frantic calls of the students.