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Kashmir unrest: New students outfit in the Valley leads peaceful protests against government

Students behind the wide spread protests in the valley say that they are fighting the “heinous and brutish acts of forces,” being committed against Kashmiris and will continue to do so in the future.

The students’ organization, All Jammu and Kashmir Students Union (JKSU), was behind the Monday protests and its members say that the call was given for peaceful protests in the universities and colleges. While many people in Kashmir were apprehensive about this organisation but the presiding body claims that they are not affiliated to any political group or ideology.

“We started this organisation since 2013 when Kashmiri students, who had gone to study on prime minister scholarship, were being harassed outside the valley. We meet Junaid Matoo but that make us students wing of National Conference, because they have their own,” Syed Tajamul Imran, an MBA student in Chandigarh, told Firstpost.

Earlier the banned Kashmir University Students Union had also called for protests but the protests were made successful by AJKSU due to their widespread network across the colleges and universities in valley.

After many decades protests were organised across colleges and higher secondary schools in the Kashmir valley. This mobilisation shook the political, security establishment and surprised everyone in the valley.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

On Monday, thousands of college students and university students took to the streets of Kashmir to protest the security forces' 'excesses' in Pulwama Degree College, last week, in which 50 students were injured in clashes with local police and paramilitary forces; some were hit by pellets. The state government reportedly attacked the principal of the Pulwama college.

The sudden emergence of All Jammu and Kashmir Students Union also raised questions, and the people behind it. Most of the people who spoke to Firstpost said the man behind the organisation is Awami Ittehad Party Engineer Rashid but the president of the Union denies these allegations.

“When Khurram Pervaiz — the human rights activist — was in jail we were protesting against his detention when a person from Engineer Rashid came and joined us and we later found he was affiliated with AIP. But does that mean we are affiliated with his organisation or Pervaiz’s?” he added.

In 2009, the Kashmir University authorities officials bulldozed the office of the Kashmir University Students Union, which earlier used to be Jammu and Kashmir University Students Union, for their pro-freedom stand. In the latest activities the union never had a presiding body nor any office bearers, the internal rivalry also between the moderate faction of the union and the ideologically extremist oriented students, became a problem.

Today the union works unofficially and has a wide following inside the KU campus. National Conference Students and National Students Union of India (NSUI) both have a membership of less then two dozen students.

On Wednesday, protests against the forces “accesses” across the Kashmir valley refused to die down, with clashes erupting after police used force to disperse protesting students, who had gathered on the National Highway connecting Srinagar with Baramulla in north Kashmir.

Women hostellers in Kashmir University also staged a protest on Tuesday, demanding action against the police for assaulting students. The students shouted pro-freedom slogans and were prevented by the varsity authorities from marching outside the hostel premises. In Banihal town, students held a demonstration and blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway for hours. Hundreds of students in universities, colleges and higher secondary schools held massive protests.

Forced to act, the Jammu and Kashmir government closed all higher educational institutions across Kashmir. Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Baseer Khan, had on Monday evening ordered that all universities, colleges and higher secondary schools would remain closed on Tuesday. The schools till Class 8 were open. The government ordered closing down all the colleges and universities shall remain suspended on Wednesday as a “precautionary” measure.

An official handout said, classwork in Kashmir University campuses shall remain suspended on Wednesday but all examinations will be held as per schedule.

“AJKSU is going to hold peaceful protests in coming days as well until the genuine demands of students are not fulfilled…shutting down college will not address the problem. AJKSU will continue holding peaceful protests,” said a statement issued by the group on Tuesday.

Updated Date: Apr 19, 2017 15:54 PM

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