1200 Kashmiri students threaten to leave Aligarh Muslim University

Written by Preksha Malu | Published on: October 16, 2018

Three students were slapped with sedition charges and suspended for holding a funeral meeting (Namaz-e-Janaza) for slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Manan Wani, incidentally also an AU scholar at the university.

 
 
Aligarh: 1200 Kashmiri students studying at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in UP will leave the campus for their homes on October 17 if sedition charges against three of them are not dropped.
 
Three students were slapped with sedition charges and suspended for holding a prayer meeting for slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Manan Wani, incidentally also an AU scholar at the university. The authorities that that was a video of three students shouting anti-India slogans at the gathering. 
 
Speaking to Sabrang India, Sharjeel Usmani, a non Kashmiri student at AMU and witness to the incident, said that the funeral meeting was held to offer ‘Namaz- e-Janaza’ which offers prayers to the Almighty to forgive the sins of the deceased, have mercy on the soul and pardon the mistakes the person may have committed in this life. It is a prayer which is offered at every funeral. 
 
He said that some students along with him had assembled in the campus lawn to peacefully to offer prayers but couldn’t do it as the proctor had arrived and dismissed them. The meeting was disrupted and later on Oct 12, 9 people were slapped with suspension and sedition charges out of which three were current students and others were graduates who were employed elsewhere. He also said that the authorities suspended them without due process or any proof of their wrongdoing. The students were not given a chance to defend themselves either. 
 
“The media came up with headlines like ‘AU scholar joins Hizbul.’ They made the matters worse. He didn’t join the militant outfit because he was an AU scholar. He must have joined for the cause and his Kashmiri identity. We had assembled peacefully on Oct 12, a day after the news of his death came. We were lathi-charged and charges of sedition were slapped on three students and were later suspended,” he said.
 
“I and all other non-Kashmiri students at the university are positive that if the charges are not dropped, we will not let our Kashmiri students leave the campus. If they are forced, we will leave with them. What is happening is undemocratic and unethical,” he said. 
 
Mannan Bashir Wani was among two Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed in the encounter in Handwara town last week. 
 
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.”
 
“Terming the slapping of sedition charges as "vendetta", Mr Rathar said, "The option of holding Namaaz-e-Janaza (prayer meeting) in absentia was dropped after the AMU authorities did not give the permission. If no prayer meeting was held as confirmed by all official agencies, the slapping a case of sedition against three Kashmiri students is simply a vendetta, harassment and denial of justice,” reported NDTV.
 
“The letter was handed over to AMU Proctor Mohsin Khan in presence of large number of Kashmiri students at his office on Saturday night. 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 in the report. 
 
AMU Spokesman Prof Shafay Kidwai said show cause notices have been issued to nine students for trying to hold an unauthorised gathering Thursday.
 
“Some AMU students from Kashmir had on Thursday (October 11) gathered near Kennedy Hall on the campus to hold funeral prayers for Wani, following which the varsity staff and the students union leaders had rushed to the spot and tried to stop them. A heated exchange erupted between the students union leaders and the Kashmiri students and they finally moved out of the area, Kidwai said, adding three Kashmiri students were suspended for trying to hold the "unlawful" gathering,” the report added. 
 
JNUSU expressed their solidarity with the students, “Are Kashmiri students still looked as enemies or anti-nationals that every time a Kashmiri raises a question or concern, the state has to invoke sedition? Is there no space for dialogue and reconciliation left. Are we in a state of war that the authorities or the state will always muzzle the voices of harmless students instead of engaging in any dialogue?” they asked in their statement.
 
“Students studying in campuses across do not need militarily or draconian interventions. There is a need of dialogue to address the issues, not by ruining careers of students, by imposing sending on them, to prison them under sedition laws. This is used only to incite hatred and violence,” they said. 
 
AMUSU president Faizul Hasan had told PTI that he had always championed the cause of freedom of speech but any act of treason or terror was unacceptable to the students' union.
 
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik assured the safety of Kashmiri students in AMU on Sunday and said that his administration had discussed it with the Uttar Pradesh government.
 
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has asked Aligarh Muslim University for a report on the incident.

27-year-old Wani was pursuing a PhD course in Allied Geology at AMU. He had quit the university and joined Hizbul in January this year. He was killed in an encounter at Shatgund village in Handwara area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district on Thursday.   

Full Text of JNUSU Statement
 
It's very unfortunate and highly deplorable that universities are now being turned into war zones. The kind of vilification that is witnessed on AMU recently, is now getting reflected on the Kashmiri students who are studying in AMU by the mainstream media. It is very disturbing. 
 
In a secular, democratic republic, freedom of expression is being muzzled en masse.  It's a concern for all the individuals who believe in the democratic institutions and the constitution. 
 
University is a space where freedom of thought and expression have to be cultivated. Instead of that, we are seeing an atmosphere of fear and hatred is being created across the country.
 
The way mob violence has been unleashed on the Kashmiri students' peaceful and democratic gathering is a very unfortunate sign of how students who have already been going through a lot of violence. They are being coerced into silence and fear. They had just gathered to have a discussion about the prevailing conditions in Kashmir and the dreadful situation that is also affecting them. Rather than allowing them to express their anxieties and concerns about the state of affairs in Kashmir, they were intimidated by violence.
 
It needs to be asked if the Kashmiri students do not have the democratic right to express; a right guaranteed by Indian constitution itself? Is it a crime to express their concern for the betterment of the conditions of the people of their native place?
 
Are Kashmiri students still looked as enemies or anti-nationals that every time a Kashmiri raises a question or concern, the state has to invoke sedition? Is there no space for dialogue and reconciliation left. Are we in a state of war that the authorities or the state will always muzzle the voices of harmless students instead of engaging in any dialogue?
 
The law of sedition is a living example of the dark colonial rule which is unfortunately followed till now. In almost all cases in the recent past, we have witnessed how sedition is being misused to scuttle voices. 
 
Students studying in campuses across do not need militarily or draconian interventions. There is a need of dialogue to address the issues, not by ruining careers of students, by imposing sending on them, to prison them under sedition laws. This is used only to incite hatred and violence. 
 
The charges of sedition and show cause notice to students must be revoked immediately. The govt of J&K, the Central govt, the civil society, and media have to handle this situation with sensitivity, not with an iron hand to bulldoze certain agenda of the ruling party at the centre. 
 
The concerns that they are raising with regard to their safety of family back home or their safety on the campus are a genuine concern of common citizens.
 
Universities are the spaces of a battle of ideas where debate, dissent and discussion should prevail. These should not be spaces of coercion, control, intimidation, and violence. 
 
Let hundred flowers bloom...
In support and solidarity with the Kashmiri students of Aligarh Muslim University.
 
Sd/-
Aejaz Ahmad Rather
General Secretary
JNUSU