The Kashmiri students studying outside the state are once again in news. More than 1200 Kashmiri students studying at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have threatened to leave for their homes on October 17, if the sedition charges are not withdrawn against three of their colleagues who allegedly held funeral prayers in absentia for the militant Mannan Wani, a former AMU student. The students have asserted that no nimaz-i-jinaza was offered after the university refused permission for this. Wani was recently killed in an encounter at Shatgund village in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
As was expected, the AMU controversy has become a contentious political issue. This has forced even the Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration to talk to UP Government. But the takeaway from this latest such episode is that Kashmiri students have once again become the fodder for the country’s toxic politics. More so, when elections are around the corner. The country is heading for state Assembly polls in five states which will be immediately followed by general elections.The BJP attempt has always been to unite and consolidate Hindu vote bank. And the one sure-fire way to do is to invoke the hate against Muslims. Or somehow bring into the play the situation in Kashmir. This has been one abiding template of the saffron politics in the country. When all else fails, BJP raises minority bogey to try and forge a monolithic Hindu vote bank. The strategy has been a factor in the rise of BJP as a national party, up from two seats in 1984 polls. But now with BJP enjoying an absolute power at the centre, the party often resorts to divisive issues.
And Kashmiri student issues have emerged as one of the favourites over the past four and a half years. Every now and then one such issue comes along to focus the nation’s attention. Recently, some Kashmiri students were beaten at a university in Noida. While the fallout of the Noida university incident was contained, the AMU issue has gotten bigger as it perfectly slots into the existing political climate in the country.
If anything, the fresh controversy will further reinforce the existing prejudice against the Kashmiri youth in the rest of the country where many of them have already been subject of security harassment and the beatings by fellow students. This is why the state government needs to pro-actively intervene to resolve the current crisis and ensure that these youth go back to their studies. Having said that, there is also the need for Kashmiri students to conduct themselves with a degree of responsibility and privilege their studies above everything else at this crucial stage of their lives.
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