Non-Kashmiris may be asked to shift from Srinagar REC
9 June 2000
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: THE UNION Human Resource Develop-ment Ministry has reportedly decided to withdraw all non-Kashmiris, including Muslims and Hindus, from the Regional Engineering College (REC) here. A recent letter from Director, HRD Ministry, to Srinagar REC principal, Prof A R Chishti, stated that it has been decided at the "highest level" to shift all non-Kashmiri students out of the REC. The sources said the HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi was keen on this move as he was under pressure from some Jammu and Kashmir BJP leaders. The letter is linked to an incident where a group of local and non-local students engaged in a war of words about six weeks ago, triggering off tension on the campus. Later some BJP leaders, to whom these students presented themselves as "victims of the Islamic fundamentalist sections of students ruling roost on the campus", took up the matter with the HRD Minister. Inquiries revealed that BSF personnel were deployed on the campus after the incident, though there was "no security threat?. Some students also wondered how "suddenly trouble is being felt on the campus when things stayed calm and cool throughout the past decade" when militancy was at its peak in the State. The State Director General of Police Gurbachan Jagat, whom some students had met, had assured them that they could approach him in case of any problem. But the students apparently never got back to him. In a recent statement, the REC principal had reacted sharply to the charges of Muslim fundamentalists having "taken over" control of the college"s affairs or naming of a hostel mess after Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden. He had said the college was being "maligned" by a section of students so that they could migrate to some other colleges. The sources said since there was no security threat on the campus, the HRD Ministry"s move seemed to be "part of a design" to close down the REC here or turn it into an exclusive Muslim college. They also questioned the rationale behind the move when the Home Ministry and the State Government were making all out efforts to ensure the return of Kashmiri Hindu migrants to the State. Official circles were also left confounded by the decision. "Whose agenda is the HRD Ministry following," they asked, alleging that the "Ministry is facilitating the Muslim fundamentalists" agenda".