As many as 1,200 Kashmiri students enrolled in India’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) threatened to quit the university if charges of sedition against two students others were not dropped.
Kashmiri students Waseem Ayyub Malik, Abdul Haseeb Mir and an anonymous accomplice were charged with sedition for allegedly raising “anti-India” slogans and attempting to hold a prayer meeting for slain Kashmiri freedom fighter Manan Bashir Wani on October 12. Wani was a former research scholar at Aligarh university , pursuing a PhD programme and was killed in fighting with Indian forces on October 11 in Kupwara district of the Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The decision drew intense criticism of university authorities from academic circles, who accused the administration of stifling individual freedom. Academicians fear the incident would elevate the existing tensions in the restive valley.
Aligarh university revoked the suspension orders later, following a decision given by a three-member committee constituted to address the matter. The committee called the suspension very “harsh” punishment for the students, however, it refused to withdraw sedition charges. Students at the varsity have warned of continued protests if the charges remain standing.
Former vice-president of Aligarh university student’s union Sajjad Rathar, also a Kashmiri, said the sedition charges were ill-conceived and were tantamount to harassment and “denial of justice”. Former president of AMU students’ union Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani said although the decision to revoke the suspension was welcome, the sedition charges were “uncalled for and based on insubstantial evidence”.
Earlier in 2016, three Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students were also charged with sedition after they organised a campus event to mark the death anniversary Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted of participating in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament building in New Delhi.
All accused students in the JNU were later released on bail.