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Witness to student protests, Baramulla College bans smartphones in campus

Srinagar, Aug 02: In north Kashmir’s biggest college that witnessed violent protests earlier this year, the authorities have come up with restrictive measures for the students in the name of discipline.

Government Degree College Baramulla has issued a detailed list of dos and don’ts for its students in an attempt to control everything from their dress to their conduct within the campus.

The college has also imposed a ban on carrying smartphones to the campus.

“Possession and use of any mobile phone, electronic devices, head phones, pager, bluetooth devices, etc. is strictly prohibited in the college. The discipline committee shall seize cell-phones from students and initiate proper discipline procedure,” reads the order issued to the students.

The diktat even gives the college staff the power to frisk the bags of students, including of females, to check for “objectionable objects”.

“Girl students are directed not to carry any irrelevant stuff in their bags otherwise the objectionable stuff shall be seized by the female disciplinary squad after proper frisking of their bags,” it reads.

At the start to this academic session, the college was one among the many institutions in north Kashmir protesting against the killing of civilians at the hands of government forces.

Reportedly, the police barged into the campus on several occasions and used excessive force to control the protests, which often turned violent.

Insiders said a few students of the college were in police custody for wounding the local Station House Officer during one such protest.

The college authorities have also banned “unlawful assembly and sloganeering” by students in its premises.

A 2nd year student girl student in the college said they were now being frisked by the authorities before entry into the campus.

“Our bags are being checked. Students do not carry any stuff that can be a threat to the college. You will find that nowhere?” she student, wishing not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Another girl student, of 1st year, said that frisking college students was a “breach of privacy”.

“We don’t even carry comb or lipstick in our bags. We don’t want to face the humiliation of college authorities,” she said.

“Everyone knows the situation in Kashmir. Our families always remain worried whether we reached safely to the college, but we are not even allowed to carry the mobile phone, which is necessity in today’s times.”

“Students are advised not to roam unnecessarily in the campus. In their free slot of time, they are advised to make effective use of library, reference section, and reading room. The designated and specific place where girl students can take rest is botanical garden/girls garden and for boys it is the front lawn/canteen lawn,” it reads.

The diktat has attracted a sharp criticism especially from the girls.

Kashmir Women’s Collective, a group that highlights women’s issues, has posted on its Facebook page, calling the “disgusting diktats” a “victimization and stereotyping” of the youth especially girls.

Reacting to it, Maliha Zainab wrote on FB, “I can absolutely empathize with such students. Our society has degraded education to such an extent that it is no more about learning. I wonder how such squads even come up… But then I suppose morality policing is another custom here in Kashmir and people mostly feel they have a responsibility to correct others.”

Aaliya Baba posted, “Kashmir had lesser number of squads otherwise and colleges are coming up with even more regressive so called moral policing and regimes. Disgusting.”

Principal of the college, Prof Fazl Rahem Beigh, said it was to “maintain discipline” in the campus.

“The institution wants better control over students. These directives are to prevent the students from crossing their limits,” Beigh said.

He admitted that bags of female students were being frisked.

“The female staff checks their bags occasionally. We don’t want that students should use phones in the campus. These steps are being taken for the benefit of the students,” he said.