Group affiliations, rivalries and controversies are part of student life. It is true for all students whether they are from Kashmir or they are studying in Kashmir. Students are students. Just that. Campuses represent the microcosm of the society we live in. Disagreements between the students have an added dimension; the energy as well as naiveté of the youth.
Therefore, campus brawls should not be allowed to degenerate and shape social and political discourses. Students should be allowed to enjoy what as students they are entitled to.
The controversy raging around NIT, Srinagar is unfortunate. Both the student groups have responsibilities to share. It is not one sided; the celebrations on India’s loss in a cricket match could be a reaction to the celebrations over Pakistan’s loss previously. It should be left to the choice of individuals to celebrate a win or mourn a loss of their favourite sports teams. But freedom comes with responsibility. The personal choice ends where other person’s nose begins.
Everybody says that cricket is a game and should be taken like that. But the reality is something different. Nationalism and ‘sentiment’ is hinged on cricket matches. Proponents of diverse political ideologies forget that a game cannot decide the loyalties of the supporters.
To study in NIT, aspirants have to qualify the prestigious AIEEE. Exchange of students takes place on basis of merit across the states. NIT Srinagar becomes home to non-Kashmiris as many other NITs play host to Kashmiri students. Inside the campus, no one should have an upper hand. Students across the regions, nationalities, identities should be treated as only students.
Flaring up the issue will do no good to either locals or non-locals. It will only exacerbate ill conceived notions and misinformed stereotypes. The electronic and print media operating in mainland India is all abuzz with the news that non-local students have been subjected to atrocities inside the campus. The ‘nationalism’ debate has taken driver’s seat. MHRD team is camping in Srinagar. All this is not going to douse the flames.
There is saying that if we are mute spectators to a fire in the neighbourhood, the next house could be ours. The non-local students are our guests and they have remained so. It is not that CRPF deployment and MHRD team will stand guard forever. The students have to come out of the campus as they do in the evenings. They enjoy Shwarma, Tandoori chicken, Momos, Kebab outside the campus while enjoying the serene environs of Hazratbal, Dal Lake, Nigeen, and Northern Fore Shore road. They can’t afford to get themselves imprisoned inside the four walls of the campus. They can’t afford to leave a hostile environment for the next batch of students. Above all, they can’t kill the true spirit of student life.
The local students too cannot escape responsibility. If NIT Srinagar has around 2300 non-local students, we have ten times more students studying and living across India.
The issue will settle down finally, but the point remains that both the groups of students have brought disrepute to the institution. The violence dies down ultimately, but the scars remain. We have a number of Keyboard Generals on both sides stoking flames but the real stakeholders are students. It is high time that they themselves realise the folly of their actions and double their efforts for restoration of the Image of NIT. We can’t lose an institution over a T-20 match. There is an urgent need to think beyond; bigger and logical.