Unease on campuses in Valley

first_imgStudents were practising football on the well-manicured lawns outside the Business and Management Studies Department at Kashmir University on Thursday, with food carts and canteens abuzz after five days of disruption following the death of an assistant professor in an encounter. However, even as apparent normalcy returned, anger and disillusionment were palpable among the students on the 247-acre campus.A stone’s throw from the Gandhi Bhavan auditorium, a 5X8 feet flex banner of slain assistant professor-turned-militant Muhammad Rafi Bhat atop the three-storey building that houses the Sociology Department greets visitors. Bhat was a faculty member of the department. More posters and banners lauding Bhat are emerging at other places on the campus with the slogan, “In memory of those who died for our freedom”.Atypical profileBhat was killed along with two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Shopian on Sunday, just 36 hours after he joined the outfit. Bhat has left behind a new profile of a militant — in his thirties, he had been married for six years, and was on the cusp of a professional career of his choice, unlike the typical militant recruit most often in his early twenties.Sociology professor Anisa Shafi is perplexed and described Bhat’s move as “a mystery” that she could not crack “because he never discussed politics or expressed any anger”.Army chief’s remarksOn the edgy campus, where students unions are barred, scores of students outside the Law Department are busy debating General Bipin Rawat’s remarks on freedom and militancy. “Youth in Kashmir are not picking up arms to defeat the Army militarily. The gun is a challenge to the moral values of Indian democracy, to deliver justice in a very just cause,” a student said.Living in isolation“Students are living in isolation or cocoons. Social and interactive spaces have been destroyed on campus. Students could be driven to anything. Departments of KU should have debating societies in every department. One ideology should be allowed to clash with another through social spaces,” suggested Political Science professor Gul Wani.This week, a Kashmir University Teachers Association (KUTA) also suggested to Governor N.N. Vohra, chancellor of the varsity, to consider “constitution of a student’s council and grievance cell”.last_img

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