EDIT: Following Free Press Kashmir’s news story the women have been provided safety by the Dehradun police who dispersed the crowd peacefully.
Srinagar: Around 15-20 Kashmiri female students have locked themselves in a hostel room in Dehradun after a mob surrounded the campus area, demanding the management to ‘throw them out of their rooms’.
Ruqaiya Hafiz (name changed), one of the students, told Free Press Kashmir that she and other Kashmiri female students, fearing the mob, have locked themselves in a room.
The students are living at Dolphin institute, Girls Nest Hostel, in Sudduwala in Dehradun town of Uttarakhand.
“It has been half an hour since we are here. We also called the police but they still haven’t arrived. We are really very scared,” Hafiz said.
The growing attacks on Kashmiri students outside valley has come in the backdrop of the killing of 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in a suicide attack claimed by militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.
While Kashmiris working outside Jammu and Kashmir got suspension orders and termination letters, the Kashmiri government employees are attacked by a mob in Jammu, ‘while police watched as a mute spectator’.
The anti-Kashmiri sentiment is already on the rise as the traders had earlier testified to be harassed by the locals and the police in the name of verification. Following that, during the closure of National Highway, the stranded Kashmiris were attacked by stones by Jammu students accusing them of raising pro-Pakistan slogans in their college.
After 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel got killed in a suicide attack in Pulwama claimed by Jaish-e- Mohammad, a 72-hour curfew was imposed in the Jammu province.
The attack took place on February 14 after which the curfew was imposed and internet services were barred in Jammu.
Despite the curfew, mobs damaged around 60 vehicles on Friday. The most volatile area in Jammu is said to be Janipur where a mob had attacked government quarters of Kashmiris serving in the Secretariat, Jammu.
Over a telephonic conversation, the terrified employees with their families in quarters told Free Press Kashmir that till 9 in the morning, forces were deployed in their colony. At 9 the forces were switched, leading to a change in scenario.
“At 9 o clock in the morning, their shift changed. At 9.15 am, we were attacked from all the sides. A mob of thousands of Jammu locals came, damaged our vehicles and even injured us,” says a government employee stuck in the government quarters in Janipur.
Accusing the police of being a mute spectator while the mob attacked them, he said, “We begged the police. We even touched their feet asking them to save us. But, they were running away from us. The kids and women with us were wailing and it didn’t melt their heart.”
He also said that the Chief Secretary and Additional Director General ( Law and Order) had visited them yesterday. However, after they left, the situation has worsened.
“We have not been able to leave our rooms, not to talk of going to the market and buying something to eat. I cannot explain how bad the situation is here. Almost all the Darbaar Move employees have their families with them due to winter vacations. We are not being allowed to move out and the police is unable to stop the violent mob,” he says adding the police gives the attackers a passage to throw stones at Kashmiris.
“Even the Army captain outside categorically told us that he will kill each one of the Kashmiris if we move out,” he said appealing the administration to either airlift the Kashmiris or make any other way for them to come back to Srinagar.
According to the eyewitnesses no one among the Jammu and Kashmir Police force deployed there is a Kashmiri or someone they can rely on.
Asked if no one from Jammu is coming forward for help, he said, “We recognise the people who attacked. Some among them live nearby. They are our neighbours, shopkeepers. No one from Jammu came to save us. Even the Kashmiri Pandits in our colony didn’t dare to come forward. We only have God with us, no one else.”
The other employees there also said that the attack was so terrifying that they did not have any other option than to retaliate with stones. At present, they are sitting together, ‘being there for each other’.
The Muslim areas including Sidra and Janipur have been barricaded. They are unable to leave due to the curfew and the risk that comes with being a Kashmiri, at present.
Meanwhile, Kashmiris living in many parts of India are receiving are receiving hateful text messages or termination letters for posting their opinion on social media platforms.
On February 15, Riyaz Ahmad Wani, a Kashmiri employee working with Macleods Pharmaceuticals Limited in Mumbai has been asked to write a Show Cause explanation within seven days, “as to why his services should not be terminated with immediate effect for his anti-national attitude,” after he posted an ‘objectionable’ post on social media.
“Because of your anti-national message on the social network, the company has started receiving furious comments/reactions, which are not only defaming our organisation but tarnishing image and questioning us as to why such anti-national element exists in our organization,” reads the letter he has received from the organisation’s administration.
Calling his post, “grave and serious in nature” he has been suspended with immediate effect pending further action.
Another Kashmiri Iqbal Hussain working as a Marketing Executive in Respicare Division of Zydus Healthcare Ltd’s Srinagar Headquarter has also been suspended till he submits a Show Cause notice for commenting on Wani’s post.
Meanwhile, messages asking people not to visit are circulating on Whatsapp. One among them, asking people to boycott Kashmiri for at least 2 years, reads as: “2/13/18, Received this from a Colonel in the Indian Army. Please read, and please forward… Thank you. Please do not visit Kashmir, Do not go for Amarnath Yatra 2018 / 2019 /2020. I am army personnel requesting you if you do not go for Amarnath Yatra for 2 – 4 years, are you going to die?? We ourselves are providing a source of income for the Kashmiris… And These very Kashmiri people attack our BSF, SRPF, IAS, IPS. They stone soldiers & they oppose our Indian Army. They do not allow Dharamshalas to be built in Kashmir. Only for 2 years boycott Kashmir…”
“All the ‘freedom’ will remain in the tent of Yasin Malik and Gilani. Then we will see how much Pakistan and China will help give monetary help to these Kashmiris Please do not go to visit Kashmir… Go to Shimla, Go to Darjeeling, Go to Kerala, Go to Kanyakumari, Go to Ooty, Go to Odhisa, Go to Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Go anywhere… Going to Kashmir means helping terrorists to become stronger… Please do not buy any item from Kashmir Emporiums, Do not buy anything from Kashmiris selling their wares on the street corners or at our doors. For the sake of National interest please try it for at least 2 years & see. The full scenario will change. Please respect the urgency of our army by forwarding this message further,” it further reads.
The travel companies are also suspending their packages to Kashmir. “We will continue our services to Leh & Ladakh because (these are) its most peaceful part of J&K. With all the sympathy for local people, if this is not done now, this has continued since 1988,” reads a post by Aabhay Jaiswal, who seemingly runs a travel agency.
“Let local Kashmiris come on the street to support Indian Army & openly say they are an integral part of India & do not support terrorism in any manner,” his post reads. He apologies to his clients who have booked packages from his travel company to visit Kashmir saying he will refund their money or plan for them to visit some other destination.