Lessons of intolerance in MP colleges

As the Madhya Pradesh government formed a committee to ‘scrutinize’ Kashmiri students, panic gripped thousands of Kashmiris studying in the BJP-ruled state. Thousands of students from Kashmir pursue post-graduate and other courses in around 60 colleges in Bhopal mostly in Hamidia, Saifia, Benazir, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indra Priyadarshani, MLBand Baraktaullah University. They now feel insecure after right-wing student organizations staged protests against them. “They have started harassing and intimidating us for taking admission here. They accused us of producing fake verification certificates for getting admission here,” said Irfan Ahmed, a Kashmiri student. “You are anti-national and pelt stones in Kashmir and then enroll yourself through backdoor here and walk away with certificates. We wouldn’t allow separatists to study here,” Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP) activists are reportedly saying to these students.

ABVP students allege that many universities in Bhopal have stretched the “Kashmiri visthapit” quota to include anyone from Kashmir, and the influx of these potentially “anti-national” students is “spoiling the atmosphere in the hostels.” Ironically, while the ABVP (a Sangh Parivar student wing) clatters on about ending the Kashmir isolation and how the state should be better integrated into India, it rejects that very integration in real terms.

By protesting against these students the Sangh Parivar only reveals its mindset. After all, apart from book-learning, there is a crucial element to a college education. It’s a place where students come in contact with others whose life experiences have been different from theirs, and where such interplay of worldviews can be productive. To seal off those possibilities is tragic, and ensures that young people in Kashmir and MP continue to live in their insulated worlds.

When the need of the hour is to integrate the Kashmiri youths and take pride in the fact that Madhya Pradesh is lending a helping hand to Kashmiri youths and letting them study, Dainik Bhaskar, a mass circulated daily, plays Hindi media’s typical role in creating hatred by publishing stories equating Kashmiri students with terrorism.  (M. Ramzan Naik)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2010 on page no. 14

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