Barely five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here, four Kashmiri students were threatened, attacked and humiliated, allegedly by some Yuva Sena activists, sparking widespread condemnation.
Yuva Sena Secretary Varun Sardesai on Thursday assured action against the culprits if they were found to be the party’s activists.
The Kashmiri students of Dayabhai Patel College of Physical Education were pounced upon near their rented home in Waghapur Road area. The Pulwama strike in Kashmir left 49 CRPF troopers dead, including two from Buldhana in Maharashtra.
Amidst all round condemnation, Yuva Sena President Aditya Uddhav Thackeray attempted a damage control by appealing “not to vent anger against Pakistan” against people living in our own country.
“I think the outrage against Pakistan and the need to give it a fitting reply is important. But we must ensure that this is not directed at our own citizens in any manner,” he said.
Yuva Sena Secretary Sardesai pointed out that it was because of Shiv Sena founder patriarch Bal Thackeray that ‘quotas’ were created in the country’s education system.
“Thousands of Kashmir students are studying in Mumbai and other parts of the state. The Yavatmal incident is wrong and condemnable. If they are Yuva Sena workers, we shall take suitable action against them,” Sardesai said in a statement.
Two of the students – Umar Rashid Dar and Umar Nazir Ganai, both from Kupwara (J&K) – and their friends were intercepted outside their home on Wednesday night.
The attackers demanded to know where they hailed from. When they replied Kashmir, they were slapped, kicked, punched and threatened with “dire consequences”.
The dozen strong mob also demanded to know whether their relatives were “terrorists” and forced them to raise slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai,” “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Vande Mataram”.
The college Principal, Sandeep Chawak, said the entire college stands “unitedly” with the four students, three of whom are here for three years and one for the past one year.
“A team led by Superintendent of Police M. Rajkumar visited the college, counselled all the students and assured there will not be any such repeat incidents, besides increasing the security around the Kashmiri boys’ home,” Chawak told IANS.
Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said “the police must immediately book these Yuva Sena activists who are indulging in goondagiri” against Kashmiris.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik wondered “whether the fight is with terrorists or the innocent Kashmir people.
“This is wrong since such actions against Kashmiris anywhere in the country will give a further boost to terror…”
Rajkumar told the media this evening that they had started rounding up the miscreants and the Lohara Police Station shall now register cases against them.
The visibly scared boys told mediapersons that “it was difficult for us to pursue education in our home state and now even here. We don’t know what to do or where to go.”
However, they said the police and college authorities have assured them full protection and support especially since their final exams were starting next week.