Kashmiri students demand withdrawal of sedition charges

The students were booked for raising anti-India slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Bashir Wani

New Delhi: Hundreds of students at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Tuesday held a protest march demanding the withdrawal of suspension and sedition charges against three Kashmiri students who held a prayer meeting for slain militant Mannan Wani.

The students marched outside AMU campus carrying placards, which read: “Being a Kashmiri is not a crime.”

Aligarh’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ajai Sahni said police booked the three students after a video surfaced showing them offering ‘namaz’ and raising anti-India slogans after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant Wani last week.

“The students were booked for raising anti-India slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Bashir Wani on October 12. We have filed an FIR against Wasim Malik, Abdul Mir and one unnamed person. They have been identified on the basis of a video recording,” Sahni said.

AMU spokesman Shafay Kidwai, however, denied the charges of harassment made by Kashmiri students on Tuesday.

“We are not against students. No innocent would be framed. But the students should be mindful of the fact that there is zero tolerance for any anti-national activity on AMU campus,” Kidwai said.

Wani, 27, was pursing a PhD course in Allied Geology at AMU. In January this year, he quit the university and joined HM. He was killed last week in an encounter in Handwara, Kashmir.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for targeting “innocent Kashmiri youth.”

“The Kashmiri students should not be seen as anti-national for holding ‘Namaz-e-Janaja’ for their friend Manan Wani. When it comes to Aligarh Muslim University, BJP makes a mountain out of a molehill. Students should be seen as students. If they make a mistake, it should be viewed as a mistake by a student,” AIMPLB leader Zafaryab Jilani said.

Kashmiri students have threatened to abandon studies at AMU if charges against the students were not dropped.

“If this vilification does not stop, more than 1,200 Kashmiri students will leave for their homes in Kashmir Valley on October 17. The sedition charges against Kashmiri students are nothing but a vendetta. It is very unfortunate and highly deplorable that universities are now being turned into war zones,” former vice president of AMU students’ union Sajjad Rathar wrote in a letter to University Vice Chancellor.

He said the option of holding ‘Namaaz-e-Janaza’ in absentia was dropped after AMU authorities did not give the permission.

“If no prayer meeting was held as confirmed by all official agencies, the slapping a case of sedition against Kashmiri students is simply harassment and denial of justice,” Rathar added.


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