recent events and the temperament of activity in the Universities in Kashmir are any indication something ‘apolitically’ political is brewing. Student politics and indeed the students’ union in the University of Kashmir are prohibited for years now. However, Congress party’s pedigree General Secretary visited Kashmir University last summer triggering a somewhat ‘desirable’ political activity on the campus.
The result has been a reportedly huge enrolment of students and other youth into the Youth Congress. Both, the separatists as well as the student community is crying hoarse about the less than transparent politics kick started by the Gandhi scion in Kashmir. Some also wonder if propelling this kind of student politics is about creating a money dispensing mechanism to lure people into what is usually referred to as ‘mainstream politics’ and otherwise described by many as pro-India politics. Either way, this means of energizing political activity at the youth level amounts to denying the student community in Kashmir a level playing field for genuine democratic politics.
Now, for the first time we witnessed student elections in the Islamic University of Science and Technology. Contrary to such elections not being allowed in the University of Kashmir, the IUST student elections raise doubts with students generally wondering what the difference between the two universities in this regard is. It has been noticed that the student community in Kashmir by and large behave in the same manner when it comes to campus politics. And, the IUST elections, if taken as a test case, should open the doors for similar exercises elsewhere in other campuses too. Or, is the IUST being set up for experimenting in the area to deal with or neutralize the negative impact of the ban on the incumbent government?
The agenda the freshly elected first student body at the IUST would carry forward in the coming months will sure reveal reasons for discrimination with other universities and colleges in the restive valley. Some students outside the IUST as well inside have started believing that the elections here have been driven by ‘mainstream’ political groups from behind the scenes, in which case the Rahul Gandhi experiment may already be replicating outside the University of Kashmir as well.
Yet others have started calling into question the motives behind the IUST elections emanating from some pressure the ruling NC may be feeling from its coalition partner, the Congress party.The coming days will clear all the impressions taking root among the student community in particular and the people and ‘pro-freedom political groups in general. At the same time, the students od IUST also have a very valuable opportunity at their hand now for showing a way forward for student politics in Kashmir. All will depend on the issues they will take for action.