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Indian-American groups urge Rutgers University against allowing display of separatist Kashmiri flag on campus

Office of the Chancellor will take stock of the flags displayed across Rutgers’s New Brunswick Campus and ensure appropriate representation of students enrolled in academics at the university, they said.
Last Updated : 04 May 2024, 05:47 IST
Last Updated : 04 May 2024, 05:47 IST

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Washington: Prominent Indian-American community organisations have urged the Chancellor of Rutgers University in New Jersey not to allow the display of a separatist Kashmiri flag on its campus, asserting it would send a wrong message amidst the current chaos at leading US educational institutions against Israel's war in Gaza.

Leading universities across the US are witnessing protests against Israeli military action in Gaza.

The conflict was triggered by unprecedented attacks against Israel by Hamas militants on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people. Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive against the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.

On Friday, a group representing protesting students said that eight of its 10 demands were met by the Rutgers University administration.

Point nine of the demands said: “Display of the flags of occupied peoples – including but limited to Palestine, Kurds, and Kashmiris – in all areas displaying international flags across the Rutgers campuses." 

However, informed sources said that the university has not conceded to the demands of the protesting group.

Office of the Chancellor will take stock of the flags displayed across Rutgers’s New Brunswick Campus and ensure appropriate representation of students enrolled in academics at the university, they said.

The group's claims infuriated several Indian American groups, which urged the university which advised it against allowing the display of a separatist Kashmiri flag on its campus.

Rutgers University “has caved,” Suhag Shukla from the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said in a post on social media platform X.

Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) echoed the HAF's sentiments. 

Rutgers University “caved in to hate and approved the display of a flag that brought terror to the small surviving indigenous minority in Kashmir,” CoHNA said in a post on X.

“Under this flag, Kashmiri Hindus were systematically cleansed out of their homeland Kashmir - a place named for the ancient Hindu Sage Kashyap,” it said.

One Dharma Viveka wrote that Rutgers University set a terrible example for all public institutions, especially universities around the US.

“Negotiated with anarchist bullies and miserably caved in granting a laundry list of concessions. Betrayed public trust by failing at equitable allocation of resources,” Viveka wrote on X.

Notably, the university has a large number of Indian students. New Jersey has one of the largest concentrations of Indian Americans in the US.

Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), wrote a letter to Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway protesting students’ demand to display flags of displaced people on its campus.

“We are very surprised to read that you are considering the demand of protesting students to display the flags of occupied peoples - including but not limited to Palestinians, Kurds, and Kashmiris - in all areas displaying international flags across the Rutgers campuses,” he said.

“This is a dangerous territory for Rutgers to get involved. By even considering this demand, you are questioning the integrity of India. Kashmir is very much (a) part of India. There is no separate flag for Kashmir. Kashmir residents are not displaced people,” Abraham asserted.

“In fact, the displaced people are the Hindu minorities who had to leave Kashmir because of violence against them. If Rutgers displays such a flag of Kashmir, that will be the beginning of more sit-ins by students who are opposed to such flags,” he warned.

“As a public educational institution, which belongs to everyone, Rutgers University has no business to get into the internal conflicts of countries around the world,” the letter said. 

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Published 04 May 2024, 05:47 IST

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