Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday said they had booked a non-local student of Srinagar’s National Institute of Technology for allegedly sharing a blasphemous video as protests against his action spread to other educational institutions in the Valley.
No classes were held at the Srinagar NIT on Wednesday amid fears of a flare-up. Hundreds of local students at the NIT had on Tuesday held protests against the fellow non-local student who had allegedly shared a video critical of Prophet Mohammad.
The protests have come amid growing anger against the police's decision to book and arrest seven students of an agricultural university under the anti-terror law UAPA for allegedly harassing a non-local student for supporting India during the World Cup Cricket final.
The police FIR against the NIT student, Prathamesh Shinde, came after protests and allegations that the force had acted swiftly and harshly against the local students but had not taken any action against a non-local. The college administration on Tuesday rusticated Shinde for a year.
Sources at the NIT said classes were suspended on Wednesday and students and employees were barred from entering the campus amid heavy deployment of forces.
The protests spread to other colleges including Srinagar’s main Amar Singh College and Islamia College of Science and Technology.
A police spokesman said they had taken cognisance of the incident “of uploading of sensitive content against religious sentiments of a particular community by one student of NIT Srinagar”.
“Upon receipt of communication from NIT authorities, case FIR No. 156/23 u/s 295A (outraging religious feelings),153A (promoting enmity between groups and 153 (provocation to cause a riot) of the IPC registered,” Srinagar police posted on X.
The charges entail imprisonment of up to three years.
Late Tuesday evening, Kashmir police chief V.K. Birdi said the police had received a written complaint from the NIT registrar requesting legal action.
“During investigations, it was found that a student had shared a video, which was not his own but one that he had taken from YouTube. That had hurt the religious sentiments of people,” Birdi said.
“The NIT had submitted a written complaint (against the accused student) for action. We have taken legal action under relevant sections of the law. The investigation is going on," the officer added.
The police action failed to calm tempers as students demanded Shinde's arrest. NIT sources said the student had left for his home state.
Iltija Mufti, daughter and media adviser of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said Kashmiri students had been booked under the UAPA “for merely cheering a victorious team” but “zero action (had been taken) against a non-local for his mischievous provocation by sharing a video slandering our Prophet”.
“No freedom of expression for Kashmiris but carte blanche given to those who mock Islam,” she posted on X.
The families of the seven students from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences have urged the Jammu and Kashmir administration to withdraw the case against them.