Kashmiri students harassed, despite repeated directions of Home Ministry to “ensure safety”

Srinagar: In yet another incident of harassment to Kashmiri students in mainland India, three youths were ‘humiliated, harassed and questioned’ by the police in Punjab before being “forced out” of their rented accommodation.

The incident happened on last Sunday evening despite the fact the government of India, particularly the union home ministry, have been issuing direction to state governments to ensure safety of students from Kashmir.

“Yesterday (Sunday) was the worst experience of my life. Since the last 4 years, I have faced police, security agencies a lot of times but yesterday early in the morning when some 15 cops of Punjab police raided my room and they came to know that we are Kashmiris the first question which a sub inspector asked was, where are your weapons. What are you guys planning to do…,” wrote one of the three victim students, Syed Tajamul Imran, on his Facebook profile on Monday evening.

The students were living in a rented accommodation in Punjab’s Zirakpur area.

“After checking everything, from bedroom to travel bags, to the bed, to dustbin, to bathroom, each and everything, they warned our land lord that if anything happened in the particular area, he will be responsible. Later our landlord came and said the we have to vacate the room till the evening. After a lot of requests he called the police but he again got the same reply. It was approximately 11 pm when we took our belongings from that room and put it in our friend’s room,” he added.

As reported by the Indian Express today, police called the broker, who had helped the three victim students get accommodation, to remove them. His classmates, Mudasir and Asif, had shifted to Zirakpur from Mohali on April 24. “We have been living for two years in Punjab. We came to Zirakpur because Mohali was far from our college. All of us gave our identity documents including out Aadhaar to the broker for verification,” said Imran.

He feared they would be killed in a fake encounter when the policemen began searching their apartment.

Imran, 25, recently completed his MBA. “The police first said that it is a usual verification, but then they searched everything. They opened our bags, turned our bed and scattered our books. I do not know what they were looking for but it was more than torture.”

“I fail to understand why all this is happening with us, why they look every kashmiri as if he is with an AK47, why?” he further wrote on Facebook. “The solution to this is ‘Let them free us, we will never come here again.”

After being harassed, the trio requested their landlord to give them some time until they can find another accommodation.

The broker, Satwinder Pal, told the New Delhi based newspaper that the three victim students left on their own. However, he confirmed that the police had called him. “Their rent agreement was complete but they had told me they wanted to leave. The police did not tell me anything. They just called to confirm whether I was the broker,” Pal said.

Punjab police denied charges of harassment and torture.

Zirakpur station house officer, Pawan Kumar, however, said that the checking was carried out under his supervision. “We carried out checking at all societies in the town on Sunday on the instructions of senior officers.’’

SSP Kuldeep Singh Chahal refuted allegations that the Kashmiri youth were targeted specifically. “Usually police carry out checking in the morning so that they can meet both tenants and the landlords.” He added that the landlord will be booked for not getting the tenants verified.

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