New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed 11 states to take immediate action to prevent threats and attacks on Kashmiris, including college and university students, in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
“The chief secretaries, the DGPs, and the Delhi police commissioner are directed to take prompt and necessary action to prevent all the incidents of threat, assault, social boycott and other coercive acts against Kashmiris and other minorities in the aftermath of the terrorist attack of 14 February," said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Sanjiv Khanna.
Following the 14 February terror strike on personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Pulwama, there have been cases of attacks on Kashmiri students in states, including in Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Following the court directive, the human resource development (HRD) ministry and the University Grants Commission (UGC) wrote to 600 colleges and universities to provide adequate safety to the students.
“We at the ministry and the UGC are for the safety of students. Though we have not received any complaints yet, we have seen reports in the media. We want to assure the Kashmiri students that their safety is important to us and all steps will be taken to ensure that," higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam said on Friday.
Kashmiri students across India include at least 8,600 who are studying under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship scheme in several higher education institutions and all effort will be made to provide them a “congenial atmosphere to study", he said.
The UGC, in a letter dated 22 February, asked universities to be proactive in the matter. “In the context of reports being received through various media regarding the safety of Kashmiri students studying in various higher educational institutions, all universities and colleges affiliated to them are advised to ensure the safety and protection of the students on the campus," it said. Institutions may seek the support of the law and order machinery in case of any incident, the UGC said in the letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.
“Keeping in view the position stated above, you are requested to look into the matter personally for the safety of the students and maintaining peace and harmony in the university/colleges," the higher education regulator said.
The apex court also sought responses from the centre and the states where incidents of threat and violence against Kashmiris have taken place.
The court also directed that the police officers who were earlier appointed nodal officers to deal with cow vigilantism and lynching incidents, would now be responsible for dealing with the cases of assaults on Kashmiris as well. The bench asked the home ministry to give wide publicity about the nodal officers so that Kashmiris can approach them in case of “assault, intimidation, social boycott and threat".
Top officials of Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Delhi have also been directed to prevent incidents of “threat, assault and social boycott" of Kashmiris, including students.
The court was hearing a plea by Tariq Adeeb, a lawyer, alleging that Kashmiri students are being attacked at different educational institutions across the country after the Pulwama terror attack and seeking concerned authorities to be directed to stop such assaults.
PTI contributed to the story.