NEW DELHI (TIP): Five companies of central paramilitary forces numbering 600 soldiers guarding about 1,500 students. That’s almost one soldier for every two students. Welcome to Srinagar’s National Institute of Technology (NIT), which has become perhaps the country’s most militarised campus following clashes among students.
The local police, accused of thrashing outstation students, is virtually invisible. Two companies of CRPF had been deployed earlier and three companies of Sashastra Seema Bal joined them after campus violence in the last few days, which began after a group of students celebrated West Indies’ win over India in the World T20 semifinal.
This is probably the only campus in the country with its entire security handed over to the paramilitary. Sources say the paramilitary presence could become a regular feature as the clashes may have put the institute on extremists’ radar for having a large presence of non-Kashmiris. “There is anger among students and parents. But we have taken steps to ensure everybody’s safety,” said deputy CM Nirmal Singh, terming the police action against student on Wednesday “unwarranted”.
Action on J&K police could demoralise them, CM told
Former J&K chief minister and National Conference member Omar Abdullah has alleged that the central forces were deployed on the Srinagar NIT campus at the behest of RSS which had accused the police of being “biased”. “The RSS has said the J&K police is biased and can’t be trusted, which is why CRPF was brought into NIT,” Abdullah tweeted and asked people to “stand up for their forces”.
Meanwhile, the state government’s decision to institute a panel to look into alleged excesses against outstation students seems to have boomeranged on them. PDP’s Muzaffar Baig has warned his party president and CM Mehbooba Mufti that action against police officers could dangerously demoralise their ranks. Home minister Rajnath Singh and HRD minister Smriti Irani had spoken to the CM before the panel was set up.
Omar took a dig at the differences within the ruling dispensation saying, “Will the deputy CM repeat his threat to take action against police officers when he visits NIT campus.”
Despite facing probe, the police seemed unfazed as it initiated action against students on March 7. Two FIRs were registered regarding violence on the campus last week. Although no student has been named, it leaves a window for police to react in case action was taken against them.