On Monday, it was a clear defiance by students in the heart of Kashmir, who came out to protest and clashed with the security forces in Srinagar. The Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU) and All India Jammu and Kashmir Students Union (AJKSU), who had called for protests last Monday had asked students to resume class work on Thursday, however, it seems the student protests are more spontaneous and the youth on the streets are not ready to listen to any particular group.
As the schools and colleges were about to reopen on Monday morning, after a week, around a dozen students in white shirts and grey trousers gathered in the main ground of SP Higher Secondary on Maulana Azad road to discuss the future strategy, whether to continue protests or go back to the classroom.
The state government, which has closed down educational institutes for five days, said on Monday that all “universities, colleges and higher secondary schools will remain open for academic activities.
The decision to close down schools and college was taken after thousands of students hit the streets against the forces' excesses inside Degree College Pulwama, in which more than 65 students and 30 forces personnel were injured. The videos, that went viral on social networking sites, drew condemnation across the ideological lines in the Valley. The beleaguered state government, instead of talking action against the errant cops, decided to attack the college principal, Abdul Hamid Sheikh.
“They (police) should first apologise for causing the mayhem inside the Pulwama Degree College. The principle was begging before the forces to not throw teargas shells inside, but did they listen to him?” Aqeel, a class XI student, who only gave his first name, reasoned before the gathered students.
The circle of around dozen students swelled within hours and soon it became big enough to take shape of a march, but lacking a leader to guide them. Everyone here is a leader, shouted one student in the group, then they all walked towards the busy MA Road to protest against the forces' “brutalities.”
“The protests in solidarity with the students assaulted by forces at Pulwama Degree College was not only exemplary but a historic message...it should be kept in mind that while resuming class work the students should make resistance against India a way of life and raise voice against the oppression whenever needed or necessary,” a statement issued by KUSU said and appealed to the students to resume their class work.
AJKSU also requested students to join classes and appealed to the authorities to ensure the security of students and demanded release of all arrested students. “It is because of these incidents that there is deep political alienation among the youth of Kashmir. Moreover, we appeal the state government to take all those FIRs back if they have logged against any student across Kashmir Valley during post clashes,” a statement issued by AJKSU said.
However, the police soon charged and clashes broke out — students threw redbrick and policemen dodged them with their shields. It was a spectacle in the heart of the Srinagar city, the summer capital, and if these angry young men are to be believed and the current momentum survives a few days, there is likely to be student unrest this year.
But these appeals seemed to be failing on the deaf inside this historic college. All of Monday morning, Kashmir police remained calm and tried to stop the students from hitting the main road.
“We won’t go back to the classrooms until and unless the government says sorry to the students who were injured in Pulwama and takes back all the FIRs against students registered against the students in last five days,” Jibran, a class 12th student, told Firstpost inside the college as the police and students fought a pitched battle at the main gate of the college.
The student protests happened in other parts of city as well. The student protests appear to be leaderless since the call for returning to classrooms by two unions would have yielded some results. "You will soon see other college and schools joining us. This is year it is going (sic) to be a students uprising in Kashmir ," Iqbal Ahmad, another students said.
Three photojournalists, including photographer for Greater Kashmir newspaper Habib Naqash, were injured while covering the clashes between the students and the police.
In the afternoon, massive clashes erupted in the heart of Srinagar city, Lal Chowk area, as students from the Government College for Women joined the protests. Scores of female students were seen staging a massive demonstration on MA road raising pro-freedom slogans. The forces fired tear smoke shells on the stone pelting students resulting in chaos in Lal Chowk. Shopkeepers shut down their shutters as clashes intensified on MA road and adjacent areas of Lal Chowk.
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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2017 17:02:36 IST