Parents of students in Turkey, Pakistan say they are being questioned, Police says routine ‘database’ work
We are creating a data-base, that is all there is to it, say officials
On July 21, Shazia Bakshi took to twitter to express her angst and surprise on CID officials visiting her residence and questioning her family about her holiday to Turkey in 2017.
She shared that her niece and mother have been called to Kothi Bagh Police Station for questioning.
Bakshi and her family had visited Turkey for a vacation.
However, parents of students who have been studying in the region, along with those whose wards are pursuing education in Pakistan, say that the police has been questioning them.
“We got a call from an official of CID office Bandipora who enquired about our ward pursuing PhD in Malaysia,” says the family of a scholar who is a native of Bandipora, but has been residing in Srinagar.
“She had visited Turkey early in 2019 to attend an academic conference.” The family added.
“They asked for all her details, when did she start her Phd in Malaysia and why had she gone to Turkey in 2019, and for how many days. They even asked for her passport number which we refused to give. They had also called our close relatives in Bandipora to enquire about the same,” a family member said.
Another resident of Srinagar, who works and studies in Turkey, said that officials visited his house on the morning of July 21 to enquire about him from his mother.
However, it is not just Kashmiris visiting Turkey who have been facing this sudden questioning. Students studying in Pakistan too received calls from the officials in Kashmir.
Families of MBBS students who graduated since 2010 have been called to their respective Police Stations, said a 25-year-old who returned after completing her MBBS from Pakistan this year.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, she said, “we received a call in the morning (of July 21) asking my family to visit the police station. My father went and he was asked about all the funding sources that helped me get through the course. I had no scholarship whatsoever; my course was self-funded. After informing this to the police, they let him go.”
Her father was also asked about the admission process, and whether they used ‘Letter of Recommendation’ from a Hurriyat leader for the same.
She maintains that she took the admission on her own merit, without any letter of recommendation.
The officials however, seem to underplay the sudden checks.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir, an official in the concerned department said, “we are creating a data-base, that is all there is to it.”
Pakistan, for more than two decades, has been offering admission quotas to Kashmiris in professional courses, including medical courses.
Students from Jammu and Kashmir who study in Pakistan are broadly classified into two categories: those applying for admission under foreign student seats through Pakistan’s Ministry of Education, and the students applying for admission under the scholarship programme.
Students whose parents or close relatives have been killed in Kashmir’s ongoing conflict are preferred for the scholarship program.
Under this program, there are 100 scholarships, and students are provided free accommodation, and a stipend.
A letter of recommendation from Hurriyat leaders is considered during these admissions.
India’s premier investigation agency, the National Investigation Agency has accused Hurriyat leaders of running an ‘admission racket’ wherein they charge lakhs of rupees from prospective students.
NIA has accused the Hurriyat leader of charging money for these letters which was then used for “spreading terror” and “separatist activities” in the Kashmir valley.
However, the students say they have been under a lot of stress after these summons.
“There are no opportunities of higher education in the valley. If we choose to go out, we should be allowed to pursue our education and we should not be harrassed like this,” the MBBS student said.