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‘Assault’ on J&K pupils

May 5: Three Kashmiri students of a private university in Noida were allegedly beaten up in their hostel room and forced to shout anti-Pakistan slogans by another group on Saturday night, triggering outrage in the Valley.

Leaders from across the separatist-mainstream divide condemned the alleged assault, with chief minister Omar Abdullah blaming Narendra Modi’s supporters for harassing Kashmiri students outside the state.

“You are sending these supporters to universities to harass Kashmiris. You cannot win the hearts of Kashmiris with such things. You will further alienate Kashmiris. Be careful,” he told an election rally in Handwara, indirectly accusing the BJP mascot. Omar had earlier blamed Modi for last week’s killings in Assam.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate wing of the Hurriyat Conference, said: “Our students and traders are always the victims of communal forces in India. The security and safety of Kashmiris outside the state rests with the Government of India.”

The incident comes barely three months after several Kashmiri students were expelled from a Meerut university and sedition charges slapped against them for cheering the Pakistan cricket team during a match against India. The charges were withdrawn after Omar stepped in.

A Kashmiri student at Nodia International University said a group of six, allegedly drunk, beat them up. “They entered our room late in the night, started abusing us and later thrashed us. They asked us to shout ‘India zindabad’ and then asked us to repeat ‘Pakistan murdabad’. When we asked them the reason, they abused us and called us terrorists,” the student said.

University authorities today expelled two students — Hirank Tiwari and Sudhir Chauhan. “After taking adequate measures, we have controlled the situation for now. We have formed a team which will ensure safety of the students,” registrar Dewadesh Sharma said.

Sharma also said the three victims had submitted a written complaint. “After receiving the complaint, we have created a committee to probe the matter.”

Last night, nearly 100 Kashmiri students had gathered on the university campus demanding action against the attackers. Close to 150 Kashmiri students study in the university and live in private hostels near the campus.

In Srinagar, officials said Omar today instructed Jammu and Kashmir’s resident commissioner in New Delhi, Lokesh Kumar Jha, to find out details of alleged harassment of Kashmiri students at various Uttar Pradesh universities. Jha visited the university and met the students.