A day after outstation students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar made a slew of demands, including shifting campus out of Kashmir, the local students submitted a memorandum before the Union HRD ministry countering most of those demands. The NIT Srinagar campus is grappling with a tense situation since Tuesday following a clash between the outstation students and the police.
Earlier in their meeting with the HRD ministry team, the outstation students had made demands, which included shifting the institute out of Kashmir, permanent presence of CRPF, action against the policemen involved in lathicharge, protection from any harassment inside NIT among others.
But those demands have now been strongly countered by the local students.
“We are all aware of the volatile nature of Kashmir region. Presence of central security or armed security forces of any type will only make the campus (and subsequently, its students) vulnerable to disturbance owing to political events outside college,” the students said in their memorandum to the Union HRD ministry.
“They are demanding the presence of armed security on the grounds of an educational institute. This is not acceptable here or anywhere in the world. In the past, security forces used to reside in the hostel. This set a tone of hostility and fear amongst every student and parent,” the memorandum read.
Backing their demands, the local students also recalled the widespread protests across Kashmir in 2008 and 2010, saying not a single outstation student was harmed during these incidents.
The situation in National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar remains fragile with few students still boycotting classes. It all began last week after a brawl between two groups of students following India’s exit from the T20 cricket World Cup. With some non-local students going on protest and demanding to leave the campus, the situation snowballed on Tuesday after the police lathicharge.
On the allegation of academic harassment of outstation students, the local students said the demand was not only “disrespectful” to the teachers at NIT but also the HRD ministry which selects them.
“This demand comes as a surprise. The academic section has the award rolls of the current students and the years before. Taking a look at those records, a fair number of the toppers are non-locals. This reinforces that in NIT Srinagar, the only requirement to succeed is merit and hard work. They have never been academically harassed before and will never be in the future,” they said in the memorandum to the MHRD.
Rejecting the charges of discrimination against any outstation student, the local students said the NIT Srinagar has always been a “tightly-knit community”.
“We have always been great hosts to the students who come here from outside. We do our best to make them feel at home, and can assure you without an iota of doubt, that we will continue to do so. Our hands are always extended,” the local students said in their memorandum.
Earlier, the issue had snowballed leading to Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani seeking assurance from Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti. Irani too had said that arrangements will be made to facilitate travel of outstation students to their respective homes after the completion of their due exams.
The issue is also emerging as a a first serious test for Ms Mufti after she took over Chief Minister on Monday.
(With inputs from the PTI)