Five students from Jammu and Kashmir quit their engineering college near Lalru and headed home following a clash between two groups of students, allegedly over “cheering” the Pakistan cricket team while watching Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match on Tuesday night. This is the second incident in 4 months. Three Kashmiri students were allegedly beaten up by a group of local students for not shouting slogans against Pakistan in a university in Noida, in May.
According to an eye-witness, the incident took place when around 50 students were watching the Pakistan-Sri Lanka one-dayer in the hostel common room. One group started cheering for Pakistan, and this led to hooting from the other group. After a few rounds of hooting, both the groups started fighting and vandalizing the hostel property. Reports suggest that twelve students from both groups were injured in the clash.
The strength of the boys’ hostel is 500. There are two blocks, one mostly occupied by J&K students and the other by students from other states.
This incident took a political turn when, on Wednesday, many students protested outside the college and were joined by a local Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader, Dhami Sharma, who was later booked along with 30-40 unidentified persons for blocking the Chandigarh-Ambala highway.
The college authorities are denying the clash had anything to do with “pro-Pakistan slogan” and asked all the students to vacate the hostel. The college authorities also blamed outsiders, local workers of a political party and media for blowing the issue out of proportion.
Principal T D Sharma said, “We’ve formed a five-member committee to inquire into the cause of the clash. The incident was over by the time college authorities and police reached there. We have given a complaint to the police without naming any student. But one thing is certain: it wasn’t due to ‘pro-Pakistan’ or ‘anti-India’ slogans. This was stated next morning by local party leaders who brought outsiders to protest. Not a single protester was from the hostel. The issue was sorted out that very night and on Wednesday, the police escorted all J&K students till Chandigarh, from where they departed for their homes.”
“Five J&K students collected their documents and said they were not coming back, However, parents of some of them called and requested us to take them back. We told them they are welcome,” said the principal.