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The Suspended Kashmiri Dean from Dehradun Helped Prevent a Crisis in His College After Pulwama Attack

Ruminating on the events, Kuchay, who has completed his bachelors as well as masters from Dehradun himself, said that he hoped that tensions would die down soon so that life could return to normalcy.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:February 21, 2019, 5:59 PM IST
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The Suspended Kashmiri Dean from Dehradun Helped Prevent a Crisis in His College After Pulwama Attack
Credit: News18 Creatives/Mir Suhail
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Dehradun, the otherwise pleasant yet quiet district in Uttarakhand, has been at the center of much debate and attention since the Pulwama terror attack. Even as the country mourned the loss the over 40 jawans that were killed in a suicide bombing on Feb 14, reports started pouring in from various parts about Kashmiri students fleeing virulent right-wing mobs.

On Friday, a 250-300 persons strong mob thronged Dehradun, chanted anti-Pakistan slogans, and demanded that colleges stop admitting Kashmiri students. By Saturday, the demands had changed. Now they wanted the ouster of all Kashmiris in city colleges as well.

It became a tough time for the Alpine College of Management and Technology. Along with its 340 odd Kashmiri students, the institute also employed a 27-year-old Kashmiri as the Dean.

"I realised how dangerous it was to be around here," said Abid Kuchay, the resident of Kulgam who had been teaching at Alpine for almost three terms now and held, until last week, the position of Dean, Academics. On Friday, a mob about 500 people stormed Alpine college. Similar incidents were reported from other colleges.

"At first they wanted Kashmiri students out. When they found out the Dean was Kashmiri too, the mob started to get out of control. They demanded my immediate termination," Kuchay told News18.com in a phone conversation from Jammu.

He was suspended following the mob attack in the college premises. According to Alpine authorities, the college had no choice but to appease the mob and suspend Kuchay.

"We were under pressure," Anil Saini, chairman of Alpine College, said. "What the institute administration gave in writing to the protesting mob was to ensure the safety of the Kashmiri students," he added.

"We tried to reason with the mob. But it was of no use. They were getting violent so it was decided that it was best if I too go home," Kuchay, who reached Jammu on Tuesday, said.

However, he has been involved in transporting other students out as well. Since Friday's events, Kashmiri students have been fleeing en masse from colleges in Dehradun. Many property owners have asked Kashmiris living on rent to vacate the spaces. Others have called for their expulsion from work and colleges. These mobs have been led by several right-wing fringe organisations. Bajrang Dal’s Dehradun convener Vikas Verma went on record to state that Kashmiris will not be tolerated in the city.

According to J (name withheld), a botany student of Alpine college, the atmosphere was scary but the college and its Dean acted quickly. "They made arrangements to send us out in batches. First, they arranged for the women," J told News18.com. She and three other Kashmiri girls shared a room in a hostel close to the institute. When the mobs arrived, the girls were at home. "We locked our doors and windows and waited it out for over a day."

The girls called Kuchay who has been on his toes since Thursday’s attack. He told News18 that he was constantly in touch with students as well as Uttarakhand police till he himself left. According to J, Kuchay has been a constant and reliable ally to the students. The professor, however, said that he too had an ally.

"One thing I must say through this ordeal is that Uttarakhand Police really helped. They would reach quickly anytime I called," Kuchay said.

Over 230 Kashmiri students from Alpine have already left for home or are in shelter homes elsewhere. A batch of 15 women including J flew out on Wednesday.

Kuchay said that the college's director and chairman ensured that guards were provided to students along with transportation for sending the students to the airport to avoid any attacks or harassment on the road. "In some cases, they even provided their personal vehicles," the professor informed.

A (name changed), a student from Jammu, said he was among the first batches to leave Alpine. He said that he was going to return to the college after the tensions died down and were certain that they would. “But it is true, it is not safe right now. Everyone is blaming Kashmiris for being Pakistan sympathisers here, especially the mobs,” A said.

He added that several landlords had turned away their students but that some also helped out. "There were some rooms which had four people living in them. From Friday, many of these people started keeping more people to protect them," A said. However, he admitted that a majority of landlords did not want to keep Kashmiris anymore, fearing a backlash or out of personal hate.

Not everyone had the security of being escorted out, though.

A media report said that Imtiaz Mir, a student of Alpine, who had fled Dehradun along with 29 other students from other colleges were staying at a safe-house run by Kashmiris in Chandigarh. He said that he and others had to secretly leave the city on Saturday night, fearing for their lives.

Kuchay, however, said that the student should have called him instead of venturing out on his own which was both careless and dangerous. "This situation could have been avoided. I myself am booking the tickets for Kashmiris stuck in Dehradun. He called me later, once he had already left," he said.

The situation is at present somewhat thwarted with most Kashmiris back in Jammu & Kashmir. The ones that remain are mostly from Jammu.

According to media reports, violence took place outside Minerva Institute, and the authorities at Baba Farid Institute of Technology also announced that they will not be admitting Kashmiri students. (even they said they did it to quell the mob.) Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Organisation (JKSO) of Uttarakhand released a statement claiming 12 Kashmiri students were injured when goons from VHP beat them up on Saturday. Two of them had to be hospitalized, the group stated.

Other instances of attacks on people from the Valley include a Kashmiri shawl seller who was recently beaten bloody in Bengal and Kashmiri shops burnt in Bihar. Two Kashmiri traders were also beaten and harassed in Delhi.
Early after the attack, several Kashmiri employees were fired from organisations such as Zydus Cadilla, allegedly for posting anti-national messages on social media.

In fact, On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard a PIL against the attacks on Kashmiris and discrimination in educational institutions. The apex body has deferred the hearing till Friday even as Human Resource Development minister Prakash Javadekar denied any such attacks. Meanwhile, 22 people have been arrested for anti-Kashmir protests in Dehradun.

Ruminating on the events, Kuchay, who has completed his bachelors as well as masters from Dehradun himself, said that he hoped that tensions would die down soon so that life could return to normalcy.

"These are clearly political problems and normal people are getting harassed and hurt. I'd request everyone to stop politicising violence. And to all Kashmiri students, it is a hard time but we must not give in," Kuchay said adding that the biggest challenge now was the rehabilitation of the thousands of displaced students who have fled Uttarakhand this week.
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