NIT Srinagar: Are we missing the truth?
Nearly 56% of all the outstation students of NIT Srinagar, who had left for home citing security threat after clashes in campus, have rejoined college, the institute said, contradicting claims of other outstation students and a student union that the numbers were inflated.
"Till Thursday (April 28) evening, 810 students have returned," Dr Ab Limat, Dean, Students Welfare, told Catch, indicating that the situation at the campus was returning to normal after over three weeks of unrest.The number of out-station students who have rejoined classes at NIT-Srinagar after the 31 March clashes has become a point of contention between the students and the college authorities. While the college says that over 800 of the 1,441 out-station students who left the campus over security fears - have come back since 25 April, the students claim the college is inflating the numbers in order to show that the situation has been normalised. Classes were suspended after a tiff in the campus between local and out-station students after the T20 World Cup match between India and West Indies on 31 March, which resulted in the police lathi-charging the protesters. "Students have returned and started attending classes," Prof MA Ahanger, Dean of Academic Affairs at NIT Srinagar, told Catch.
The institute has also postponed the exam to 5 May and has deployed CRPF on campus, as per the demands of the protesting non-local students. The total strength of NIT is 2,500.
'Only fourth-year students have returned'
But there is another side to the story. The students claim that most of the out-station students to return are final-year students, that too under pressure from the college. Catch reached out to local and out-station students, who have started attending classes. About 400 protesting students are based out of Jammu. The outstation students' demands include withdrawal of the FIR on students, the hoisting of the tri-colour in the campus and further postponement of the exams.
"On Monday, we checked the register. Just 150 students had returned. Over the last two days, the number has probably reached 400, but definitely not 800. Moreover, only fourth-year students have gone back," Ankit Bhardwaj (name changed on request), a fourth-year student at NIT-Srinagar told Catch on 27 April.
"Overall about 200-300 students came back by Wednesday - all fourth-year students but no second or third-year guys. But, we are at all together. We have no issues among us," a Kashmiri student said, requesting anonymity.Mohit Bhargav (name changed on request), a second-year student, said, "Teachers are pressurising us to go back. Notices are being issued by the institute. Both the government and the institute are ignoring us. Government wants us to back so that this becomes a non-issue. The administration is saying 600 students are attending classes. This is not the truth. They are saying this to break our unity. Just fourth-year students are going back". Others had similar things to say. Only fourth-year students are back on campus. Others are yet to report back.
Are the students being pressurised?
Some students fear institute may not clear their backlogs or promote them to next semester. Bhardwaj, who is in Jammu, said, "These (fourth-year) students have to join their (placement) companies by June. They need to finish the course, clear backlogs. If anything happens, the college won't help. They are under intense pressure to join classes. Also, after investing four years, many of them just want to finish it and get out."
A member of the Congress party's student wing NSUI, which has taken up issue of the outstation students, said the exams were scheduled from 5 May to create pressure on students.
"Many students are not reporting back to college. The government is putting pressure. Pressure should be there on students raising Pakistani Flag, not the Indian students," said Ankit Dedha and Neeraj Kundan of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of National Students' Union of India (NSUI). But Dr Limat dismissed the students' claims.
"You can come and check our register. We have proof that more than 700 students have come back. See our register. There is nothing to hide. They are attending classes," said the Dean.