Soft Targets  

With no educational infrastructure available back home students from Kashmir end up becoming victims of anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri rhetoric in mainland India. Saima Bhat talks to one of the eight students who was attacked in Haryana recently   

Haryana-victim“Any Muslim who will look towards Hindus, we will chop him,” is what Mashoor Ali Wani, 18, recalls as the last words of that ‘horrible’ day of December 06, 2014 before getting unconscious. He was the most critically injured student among eight others who were allegedly beaten by local goons and a few college students at Global Research Institution of Management and Technology in Yumna Nagar Haryana.

Still in a state of shock, Mashoor, a first semester B.Tech student, looks pale with his head all over covered with bandage and clots on arms and hands. “It was around 1:30 PM of Saturday,” he recalls, “and I was planning to see a doctor as I was not feeling well.” He called his friend Shahid Mehraj to accompany him. It was then the duo heard noise coming from the mess. The boys didn’t read much from it. “But suddenly some boys came out shouting Bam Bam Boley,” he recalls.

Mashoor and Shahid were unaware of the happening around and were still thinking of what to do. Meanwhile, some boys came in cars with iron rods, some big and many 18 mm rods used in construction, in their hands and attacked Shahid, who was standing at a distance from Mashoor.

“As I saw they were beating Shahid with those big iron rods, I moved forward to save him but one boy, among attackers got his katta (country made pistol) from his pocket and pointed it towards me. I was in a state of confusion, to save my own life or to save my friend. But my friend shouted at me, chalu (run) in local language,” he recalls.

But as soon as Mashoor started to run for his life he heard two shots. Unaware of, if those shots hit him or not, he ran till a tall boy cut him short. He first thought he is safe but as he looked behind, some more boys were coming to hit him now. Somehow, the tall boy fell down, and Mashoor ran away.

As he looked back, every Muslim student on the campus was getting thrashed. A few were running to save their lives. To their dismay, the main gate of the college was already closed down by the goons. The security guard posted near the gate, yelled at them, not to come near him. “Whatever you have to do, do it, but don’t come near me. I am not involved,” the guard shouted repeatedly. Then boys left with no option, jumped over the gate, but Mashoor fell down.

“By then, two boys were already near me with iron rods in their hands and they started beating me,” he says. To save his head, Mashoor put his arms in front of his face, but one rod hit his head. As blood started oozing out, he heard the goons saying before becoming unconscious, “Any Muslim who will look towards Hindus, we will chop him.”

When Mashoor opened his eyes, he found himself lying in a pool of blood. “I thought, it was a bad dream,” he says, “but then, I suddenly saw blood on my clothes, hands, everywhere. I closed my eyes back so to give them a feel I am still unconscious or dead.”

Mashoor opened his eyes only when he heard voice of some friends and siren of ambulance. All injured were taken to a local hospital where their wounds were cleaned up. And from there they were shifted to another hospital where he learned that his head was injured at four different places. “That time I realized the goons continued to beat me even after I fell unconscious!”

About the other boys, around 50, who jumped out of the gate that day, Mashoor says, “I later came to know those boys were chased by goons for some 5 kms till they reached a nearby police station.”

Back home when Mashoor’s father, Mohammad Salim Wani, a banker posted in Kishtwar came to know about the incident he immediately left for Haryana.

“The director of the college first informed me, ‘it was a small scuffle between boys,’ ” says Wani. His woes didn’t end there. He was told all Kashmiri students have left for Kashmir in two different buses. “I was then directed to visit Chandigarh border,” he says. “My ordeal finally ended in Jammu where I spotted those two buses.”

Mashoor’s birthday was around, but for Wani it was his son’s ‘rebirth’. Later he came to know that his son has got compound fracture in head at multiple places. And, soon doctors at SKIMS kept him under observation.

MS Shalini, director of the institute who declared one week “preparatory off” for the students in the college, says argument started when a student from Jammu slapped a Kashmiri student during lunch break on Saturday afternoon. “Initially the matter was resolved on the intervention of seniors,” she says, “but then students again got involved in the scuffle.”

Meanwhile, the faces of those goons are still haunting him. “I can identify all of them,” he says. “Sarpanch of the area was also present among those goons.”

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