April 7:Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh on Thursday said that the state government has ordered a probe into clashes which took place at Srinagar’sNational Institute of Technology (NIT).
On Wednesday, a three-member team of central government officials visited the volatile campus of the Kashmir college after days of bitter tension between local and non-local students there.
The incident is the first major challenge for the newly-installed coalition government in the state headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The three-member team, headed by Sanjeev Sharma, a director in the Union Human Resources Development Ministry, met officials of Srinagar’s NIT and the protesting non-local students who have been boycotting classes for two days.
The team’s visit to the campus, where central paramilitary troopers were deployed on Tuesday night, came after hundreds of non-Kashmiri students accused the Jammu and Kashmir Police of kicking and punching them when they wanted to march out on roads shouting pro-India slogans.
The trouble in the college, situated near the famous Hazratbal shrine of Kashmir, started after India’s loss to the West Indies in the T20 cricket World Cup semi-final played last week in Mumbai. Traditionally, it has always been sporting clashes between India and Pakistan that have stoked tension in the valley.
According to witnesses in the campus, local students had been cheering for the West Indies while the non-locals were supporting Team India. As Andre Russel of the West Indies hit the winning runs, crackers were burst in the vicinity, if not within the campus, to celebrate the victory of the Caribbeans.
This pitched non-locals students, whose number is around 1,500, against locals in the college. A day after the cricket match, non-Kashmiri students held demonstrations shouting slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Hindustan zindabad” and “Pakistan murdabad”. Local students also gathered and raised pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Sensing trouble, the campus management suspended classes till April 4. But on Tuesday, a group of 500 non-local students took out a procession inside the campus, carrying the Tricolour and shouting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
Police at the campus gates prevented the students from marching out. The protesting students alleged they were beaten up and police personnel even entered the campus and thrashed some of their handicapped colleagues. Police accused the protestors of indulging in stone pelting, an allegation they denied.