Shameful, outrageous Framing of sedition charge against Kashmiri students betrays a fascist mindset and siege mentality

The manner in which 67 Kashmiri students studying in Swammi Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut were first hounded out of the University and then booked for sedition betrays a fascist mindset and siege mentality. Their “crime” was that they cheered the winning Pakistani cricket team, for their splendid performance, an act which is expected from any lover of cricket cutting across the barriers of geography, religion and race. These students were first assaulted and beaten by the local students imspired by misplaced patriotism and worst kind of jingoism and then arbitrarily and unjustly suspended from this institution of higher learning. Though the sedition charge has now been withdrawn following the protests from the people of Kashmir and other well meaning citizens of the country, the damage to India’s image as a democratic state has already been done. The students were very much within their rights to laud a winning team and in no way violated any law of the land. The very act of the authorities in Merrut in slapping sedition charge against these students is seditious in nature, for their violation of the Constitution of India both in letter and spirit.

Instead of outrightly condemning the action of the University authorities in suspending these students and hounding them out of the University against all cannons of justice and fairplay, chief minister Omar Abdullah only obfuscated the issue by describing the students chering a winning team as “misguided”. This perhaps emboldened the local authorities in Merrut to go to the extreme of slapping sedition charge against these students. When the chief minister describes the framing of sedition charges against the students as “harsh and unacceptable” and not totally unjustified and also travesty of justice, he impliedly supports the view that these students have done something wrong or unlawful. The withdrawal of sedition charge against these students is not enough to serve the purpose of justice. If the UP government believes that wrong has been done by district authorities in booking these students for sedition then it must initiate an impartial inquiry into the whole affairs and act against those who have acted in this brazen manner. The University authorities on their part should apologise for their action in suspending Kashmiri students and take action against those who assaulted and intimidated them.

The entire incident needs to be viewed as an ugly demonstration of patriotic jingoism and manifestation of lack of trust in the people of Kashmir. It is not the first case of its kind where the Kashmiris in general and Kashmiri students and youth in particularly, are being looked upon with suspicion not only by the Indian state but also by the Indian civil society at large. A number of such incidents have taken place in the recent past where the Kashmirs faced the wrath of communal, fascist and jingoistic elements in different parts of the country, particularly in the national capital and other metropolitan cities. A number of them had to abandon their studies or leave their jobs in view threats, humiliation and discriminations they face at their work places or in the localities they live. In several cases the hotels and lodges have been declared out of bounds for them and they find it extremely difficult even to have rented residential accommodation. They are shadowed by various agencies and live under constant fear both of the authorities and patriotic jingoists from the saffron brigade. When Kashmiris, like other Indian citizens, are not allowed to voice their feelings and views freely, are not allowed to hold peaceful rallies and protests and on the contrary are made to face the police wrath and hooliganism of communal fascist elements, become the targets of the official agencies they naturally turn against the Indian state. Instead of trying to win over the hearts and minds of the estranged Kashmiris such ugly incidents and actions of the intolerant state only further contribute in pushing them to the wall, with all its dangerous consequences.