Kashmiri students divided on 'azadi'

''Some of the youth are being brainwashed by anti-national elements. The majority of the stone-pelters get money in return. Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India,'' said Sajad Yousuf, a student of Kashmir University.

The 21-year-old who lives in Anantnag said India was developing at a fast pace and Kashmiris want to remain a part of it. "At the same time, the armed forces should ensure that innocent people are not killed by their bullets."

The group of students from Kashmir University, Islamic University for Science and Technology and other professional colleges were invited to interact with various political leaders in the capital Wednesday to find a way to calm the tempers of valley youth.

The valley, including Srinagar, has been on the boil since June 11, with stone-pelting protesters clashing with security forces. At least 60 people have been killed, mostly in firing by security personnel.

Among the Kashmiri students who were in Delhi, those demanding a separate state argued that Kashmiris are a different race culturally, traditionally and ethnically and are not comfortable with being a part of India.

"A plebiscite should take place and a decision should be taken by the people of Kashmir. We don't want to be a part of India or Pakistan," said Adil Bashir, 24, a student from Islamic University of Science and Technology.

Another student from the same university who did not wished to be named admitted that he had been among those pelting stones at security forces.

"I am a stone pelter because of the armed forces who forced me to do such thing as they were continuously killing innocent people in the valley," he said.

"I don't think of the security personnel as human beings when I hurl stones at them. For me, they are the face of the Indian state," he added.

But 26-year-old Ashaq Hussain Dar, a student of Kashmir University, believes the whole idea of 'freedom' is warped.

"What freedom are they talking about? There was only one freedom struggle and that was against the British, which we won, everything else is a farce. Out of 100 common Kashmiris, 80 want to remain with India," he said.

He said many of the protesters have been taught what to do and what to say in front of the media and don't have a mind of their own. They are the messengers of the separatists, he added.

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