New Delhi: Students from Jammu and Kashmir studying at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have issued a statement, turning down an invitation by Adityanath, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, for a meeting at his residence aimed at explaining the positives of the Centre’s decision on abrogation of Article 370.
In the statement, the students said they were amazed to know about this invitation as they had never received such ‘political invitations’ before. They also expressed their anger against what they termed as the ‘deceitful behaviour’ of the Central government on the watering down of Article 370 to take away the special status of the state and the near-total communication blackout in the region.
Terming the UP chief minister’s ‘gesture’ as “photo-op politics”, the statement describes the invitation as an attempt at “political propaganda" aimed at misleading the world about the worsening humanitarian crisis and the clampdown in Kashmir.
The students said they had unequivocally rejected the invitation, asking the CM to instead talk to professors, lawyers, students and common people of Kashmir who are in jails in the UP in Meerut, Lucknow, Allahabad and Agra, and hear from them the plight of Kashmiris.
Expressing anguish over Adityanath's invitation at a time when communication services in J&K are disrupted for over 50 days now, Bilal Majid, a research scholar in AMU’s history department, said: "This is invitation is meaningless as students are here for studying, not to discuss political activities. The Chief Minister rather should discuss this with those who are in politics. There are lots of Kashmiris languishing in various jail of the state, including Agra, Aligarh, Meerut, and the government should discuss this with them.
Majid termed the invitation as “nothing than a PR exercise to show that Kashmiris are with the CM so that he can justify that abrogation of Article 370 will benefit Kashmiri people.”
“Our grievances are hostel accommodation and a good library. We have no other grievances, and these are limited to the university administration. The general grievance of Kashmiris is not in the jurisdiction of the UP chief minister, so there is no point in discussing anything with him. We do not want to be part of the propaganda," he added.
The students also accused the Indian Army of distributing pamphlets in Kashmir to convince people of the “benefits” of abrogation of Article 370. These pamphlets speak of new factories and job creation.
'ALIGARH DM THREAT TO KASHMIRI STUDENTS'
Another Kashmiri student, Waseem Makai, pursuing a PhD in English, told Newsclick, that the students received information about the meeting through the university administration on September 24, 2019. The AMU Registrar and Proctor called a meeting of Kashmiri students on the issue. Later in the day, the District Magistrate (DM) of Aligarh called us at his residence and discussed the proposal. “We told the DM that we have some reservations. We said that involving us in any political activities here could put our family members lives in danger in Kashmir, but the DM was not concerned with our grievances. He was not able to convince us, and threatened us that If the distract administration withdraws security from Aligarh, we won’t be able to stay here,” he said.
Waseem alleged that the DM further said that "If you won’t speak to the head of the state, then it seems you people are willing to talk to leaders of another country” adding that his tone was “very aggressive.
Meanwhile, the media has gone ahead and reported that 40 Kashmiri students from AMU have been called to Lucknow for a meeting with the Chief Minister to discuss the abrogation of Article 370 and how it will benefit the people there.
The students said they asked the officials to inform the UP Chief Minister that revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories had politically disempowered Kashmiris and made them vulnerable to demographic changes.
Farhat, a Kashmiri student, told Newsclick, "My conscience does not allow me to meet Yogi ji (the chief minister) as his party has locked down eight million people in my homeland, spurring a humanitarian crisis. None of my friends has been able to go to college and universities for 52 days due to the clampdown. This is a face-saving exercise by Bharatiya Janata Party to foster the narrative of normalcy and support from Kashmiris to a decision that has no support in Kashmir. It is inhuman to offer us to talk to UP CM when we are unable to talk to our parents."
Earlier, four Kashmiri students of AMU were served show-cause notices by the authorities for holding a protest in the campus. The notices come close on the heels of a protest held in the campus on Thursday demanding lifting of communication and media restrictions in J&K and against abrogation of Article 370.
Read More: 4 Kashmiri Students Served Show-Cause Notices in AMU