EDIT: Stop vilification of Kashmiris

EDIT: Stop vilification of Kashmiris

Protestors clash with police during a shutdown against the killing of CRPF personnel in the Pulwama terror attack, in Jammu. PTI

The harassment of and attacks on Kashmiri students in some parts of the country in the wake of the terrorist attack in Pulwama last week are a matter of serious concern and should be strongly condemned. Unsavoury incidents of threats and intimidation, demands to vacate hostels and PGs and demonstrations targeted against Kashmiris and abusive social media posts have been reported from many places. Some students have fled, and some others have said that they are stranded and are living in fear. There have been reports of assaults, and of mobs moving with threatening slogans and calls to drive out Kashmiris. It is not just students but Kashmiris living and working in some parts of the country have also experienced harassment and hostile treatment. Bengaluru is no exception. Some ultra-nationalist groups are said to be especially active in the campaign, and fake news and provocative information is being spread. 

Kashmir is an integral part of India and Kashmiris are citizens of the country as much as those from Karnataka or West Bengal. It was a terrorist who mounted the attack on the CRPF personnel, and no Kashmiri is to be held responsible and accountable for the depredation. Those who target Kashmiris for the action are playing into the hands of the terrorist and others who are part of the conspiracy, because one aim of the action, as of all terrorist actions of the kind, is to break the unity of the country. India is a nation of many races, religions and languages and that is its strength. The country has seen sectarian violence targeted at communities in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 and after the Godhra train incident in Gujarat in 2002. The wounds inflicted by such violence are yet to heal. The psychology of such revenge on any scale is sick and can spell danger for the country. Any campaign against the Kashmiris in other parts of the country can only further increase the alienation of Kashmiris and make the situation in the state more intractable. 

Authorities at every level in all states should ensure the safety and security of all Kashmiris in their areas. Politicians should desist from taking advantage by creating false targets for popular anger. Strict action should be taken against those who harass and ill-treat Kashmiris or spread hatred and rumours against them. Governments and leaders should issue public calls to eschew harassment of Kashmiris and to maintain harmony. The CRPF has done well by setting up a help desk and putting out an emergency telephone number to help Kashmiri students facing harassment and distress. Protecting Kashmiris is a part of fighting terrorism.