Following the cancellation of the admission of three Kashmiri students and issuance of notices to around a dozen other students, 1200 Kashmiri students studying in Aligarh Muslim University have threatened to quit the university. The students have accused the university authorities of having unleashed a campaign of harassment and stalking against the Kashmiris studying in the university. The three students whose admission has been cancelled have also been booked under sedition. In a letter to AMU vice-chancellor, AMU students’ union former vice-president Sajjad Rathar said, “If this vilification does not stop, more than 1,200 Kashmiri students will leave for their homes in the Kashmir Valley on October 17 as a last option.” He termed the slopping of sedition charges as “vendetta” as the holding of funeral prayers was cancelled once the university authorities refused to give permission. The problem erupted when some Kashmiri students tried to organize a funeral prayer in absentia for Mannan Bashir Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir on Friday, last. Before joining the Hizb, Mannan was research scholar in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). By leaving his research work unfinished and joining militant ranks, Mannan had caught media headlines all across the globe. Mannan, for being a senior student of the AMU, had a vast friend circle across the board in the university. It was genuine for all his friends to feel sad over his death. Funeral prayer is purely a religious affair. It has nothing to do with a persons’ political ideology. There is no bar on holding such prayers before the law. A Muslim has a religious obligation to join such prayers even for his enemies. So when some friends or acquaintances of Mannan Wani tried to organize funeral prayers for him, they did nothing illegal or irreligious. The dead is nobody’s enemy or friend. Even armies of warring countries treat dead soldiers with respect. How a prayer meeting for a dead person warranted such harsh action like cancellation of admission or booking under sedition. More so, when prayers were not held at all. The students merely tried to organize the prayers but called off once the university authorities refused permission.
It is in all cases over-reaction by the university authorities. How does a mere intent warrant action? The AMU authorities should revoke the orders of action against all Kashmiri students. Police should also use common sense instead of communal sense. Organizing a religious prayer for a dead person is in no way an issue of sedition. It has become a fashion with the police in India to book people under sedition on flimsy and fake charges. It has genuinely caused anger and resentment in the entire Kashmir. What is even more concerning is that Kashmiri students studying in other universities too feel unsafe and insecure. Jammu and Kashmir Governor Sat Pal Malik is reported to have taken up the matter with the UP government. It is quite appreciable that the Governor has showed some concern. He needs to persuade not only the UP government but the AMU authorities as well to drop all charges against the students, and stop the harassment campaign against them. Otherwise, the students are very right in their stand to quit the university en mass. It is not difficult to understand the disastrous consequences of any such move by Kashmiri students. Instead of showing and proving their loyalty to the people in power at the centre, the university authorities should think of the future of the students. Any wrong direction at this crucial stage of their career would push these students to the wall, and they would be left with no choice but to go Mannan’s way.