Of UN And Harassment Of Kashmiri Students
By Abdul Majid Zargar
31 March, 2014
The democratic credentials of India touched a nadir when 67 Kashmiri students studying in a Meerut University were charged with sedition and expelled from the university for cheering for Pakistan cricket team. Since then news of hounding & harassment of Kashmiri students are pouring in from many other Indian States as well. Though charges of sedition have since been dropped, the other charges of rioting & promoting enmity between different group etc. still remain, jeopardizing the career of many a meritorious student.
It is not for the first time that Kashmiri Students studying in various Indian States have complained of threats & harassment. Such instances are galore. In 2003, Omar Abdullah, the then member of the Lok-Saba & president of National Conference had to Appeal to then Home Minster L.K.Advani to stop harassment of Kashmir students studying in Meerut & Ghaziabad universities (PTI-18-03-2003).A student sporting a beard was harassed in Bhopal’s Barkuttah University. In Bhopal’s Hamidia University, Students were subjected to witch-hunting & mental torture. Similar instances of harassment have been reported from Gagan institute, Haryana. Banglore, otherwise touted as a cosmopolitan city, has not lagged behind in the hate game either. There are also reports that the Madhya Pradesh BJP government has passed strict instructions in 2012 to the colleges and universities across the state to restrict the number of Kashmiri muslim students. This is in stark contrast to open-gate policy for students of other community. The list is too long to be mentioned. Mind you - cheering for Pakistan cricket team was not the reason in any of these incidents.
Some noted columnists have put a part of the blame on Kashmiri students as well, for cheering for Pakistani victory, which has landed them in trouble in Meerut University. But what needs to be understood is that these students are all post conflict born young boys who have witnessed torture, killings, rapes, forced disappearances in their land at the hands of Indian security forces. Hence they nurse an anger & hatred against India which is manifested in activities like cheering for Pakistani team. But having said that, it needs to be emphasized that in-spite of grave provocation, the students need to exercise utmost restraint & conduct themselves in a more elegant way without surrendering their dignity.
It is heartening to note that a United Nations panel on right to education in conflict zones has censured India for maltreatment of Kashmiri students and said that it represents a new low in the global situation of students from war-torn regions. The panel discussion was organized at the Palace des Nations in Geneva by the OMAEP, a France-based NGO accredited by the UN in New York and Geneva. While the observation of the panel is welcome, it should have gone a step further to advise India to hold the Conflict ridden Kashmiri students in trust with best possible care & attention till the resolution of the dispute.
But then it is also a fact that UN does not carry a commendable record of taking cognizance of the observations of its own sub-committees & panels. In 2004, it constituted a High level panel on “threats, challenges & change” under the chairmanship of Anand Panyarachun, Former Prime Minister of Thailand. The panel submitted a long & meaningful report and recommendations to the UN secy. General on the causes of Threats & challenges across the globe & the preventive and remedial measures to be taken. A relevant para of the said report/ recommendations is reproduced below:
“Our mandate from you precluded us from any in-depth analysis of individual conflicts and we have respected that guidance. But the members of the panel believe it would be remiss of them if they fail to point out that no amount of systemic changes to the way United Nations handles both old & new threats to peace and security will enable it to discharge effectively its role under the charter, if efforts are not redoubled to resolve a number of long outstanding disputes which continue to fester and to feed the new threats, we now face. Foremost among these are the issues of Palestine & Kashmir.”
But so far we have not witnessed any assertive action on the part of the UN to resolve these conflicts in general & Kashmir in particular.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant;E mail: email@example.com)