Srinagar: When the schools in the Valley opened on Monday after days of closure following police raid on Pulwama Degree College, streets erupted again with the student protests. Protests are not uncommon in Kashmir but what was different this time was the presence of female students being in the vanguard of these protest rallies.
The sight of gun totting police and paramilitary forces battling uniformed young school going girls is a new phenomenon hitherto not seen in Kashmir.
Girls raising anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans and clashing with the police outside Government College for Women M.A Road caught the global spotlight.
The girls from prestigious Womens College MA Road accompanied by their juniors from Kothi Bagh Higher Secondary School gave tough time to government forces.
The intensity of their protest could be gauged by the fact that the police had to fire tear gas shells inside the campus of the college to contain the situation.
The Hindu newspaper quoting a police officer reported that: Even stun grenades, PAVA shells and tear-smoke shells failed to deter these girl students. They managed to come out more than eight times despite tear-smoke shelling. Lasting more than three hours, the protest unravelled a concerning part of the growing protest. The girls succeeded in chasing away a police patrol.
An angry student from Kothi Bagh School said, People in Kashmir are dying day in and day out. The State is crushing us from all sides. How can we stay aloof from what is happening? The time has come for a decisive phase to end the Kashmir problem once and for all.
Another news network, News18 tried to go to the roots of the current student unrest and found the depth of anger and frustration among the Kashmiri students.
We are not allowed to assemble in Kashmir University. We are not allowed to write and speak. The university refuses to acknowledge our existence. We are officially unofficial, the network quoted, Misbah, a member of the banned Kashmir University Students Union as saying.
By burying dissent, students said, the university only pushed it to new heights. We felt choked. The university denied us space, did not allow us to assemble. They told us not to take to violent means, but when we took to writing, they arrested us for sedition and tortured us. We cant write, we cant share Facebook posts, we cant speak openly. We cant even be seen together. But this has only strengthened our resolve, said Saqlain, another member.
Was academics a reason for the university to put a curb on their freedom of speech? Absolutely not, said the group in a monotone.
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