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Sedition charges against 3 students:Over 1200 Kashmiri students in AMU threaten to leave for home

Aligarh, Oct 14: Students from Kashmir at the Aligarh Muslim University have written to the proctor alleging that they are being “vilified” legal sanctions are being placed on bonafide students after Manan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander and former research scholar at AMU, was killed in an encounter on October 11.

In their letter, the students have said that they had gathered peacefully on the lawns of the university to discuss the situation in the Valley after the encounter, as there were multiple reports of tensions that had raised concerns.

“No prayers or any relevant activity was observed, and the directions of the AMU – Proctor were duly followed. Meanwhile, some non-Kashmiri people armed with Lathis attacked the sitting students and caused a massive disturbance, and noisy scenes. However, the Kashmiri students dispersed immediately and no protest or law and order violation took place,” the letter says.

“Later, a vilification campaign against the students from Jammu and Kashmir was started by media that Kashmiri students violated the law and disturbed the peace in the campus. Though nothing of that sort had happened and the same was later confirmed by PRO AMU to the media,” the letter continues.

The Aligarh police has filed an FIR charging two named Kashmiri AMU students and several unidentified ones with sedition, allegedly for trying to conduct namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayers) on the campus.

Aligarh Civil Lines SHO Vinod Kumar as per reports had said, “FIR has been filed on a complaint of police sub-inspector Israr Ahmed who collected information about yesterday’s incident through his source. The two Kashmiri students, who are named in the FIR, are Waseem Ayub Malik and Abdul Hafeez Meer. Other unnamed students are also from Kashmir. As per FIR, Kashmiri students of AMU on Thursday raised slogans of ‘azadi, azadi’ on the campus. They also raised slogans against the country while showing support to a terrorist.”

The university on Thursday suspended three students for allegedly organising funeral prayers on campus.

The students have denied these allegations in their later, and condemned the police and administration’s actions. “We, the students at AMU unanimously refute these allegations of violation of law and order and thereby demand an end to defamation of highly educated Kashmiri scholars. We demand an immediate revocation of suspension orders/show cause notices and an urgent withdrawal of the sedition charges and relevant legal sections against AMU scholars.”

If their demands are not met, the Kashmiri students have said, they will surrender their degrees on mass “for reasons of safety and security”. “In case, the suspension/show cause notices are not revoked immediately and sedition charges and relevant charges are not withdrawn, we the students from the state of Jammu and Kashmir at AMU will be forced to leave the campus en-masse on Sir Syed Day (17 Oct. 2018). We, the 1200 students will surrender our degrees and leave for our homes for reasons of safety and security. All the responsibility in that case will fall on the University, and local administration. We are feeling threatened and challenged and our career development is under stake, under such fearful circumstances,” the students have said.

AMU spokesman Shafay Kidwai, however, denied the Kashmiri students’ charges of harassment and stressed that “no innocent would be framed”.

Prof Kidwai also made it clear that “there is zero tolerance for any anti-national activity on AMU campus”.

Twenty seven-year-old Wani, pursing a PhD course in Allied Geology at the AMU, had quit the university and joined militant ranks in January this year. He was killed in an encounter at Shatgund village in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Thursday.

Aligarh’s Senior Superintendent of Police Ajai Sahni said police took the action (on October 12) after a video surfaced, showing the three Kashmiri students raising “anti-India” slogans.

“Police have filed an FIR against Wasim Malik, Abdul Mir and one unnamed person. They have been identified on the basis of a video recording,” he said.

Prof Kidwai said show cause notices have been issued to nine students for trying to hold an unauthorised gathering Thursday.

“A three-member inquiry committee has been set up to probe the incident. It will submit a report in the next 72 hours,” he said. (With inputs from PTI)