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Tension prevails in NIT, HRD team meets agitating students

Tension prevails in NIT, HRD team meets agitating students
Tension mounted at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) campus here as agitating outstation students refused to cooperate with a visiting central team, demanding immediate action against some NIT officials, who allegedly indulged in “anti-national” activities.

A three-member team of the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry, which arrived here on Wednesday morning, held talks with the students to defuse the tension. The team included Sanjeev Sharma, Director (Technical Education) in the HRD Ministry, Deputy Director Finance Fazal Mehmood and Chairman of Board of Governors of NIT MJ Zarabi.

The team was rushed by the Ministry to take stock of the situation and look into the grievances of outstation students, studying at NIT-Srinagar.

In Surat, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said that she had spoken with J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had assured her to ensure safety of all students at the institute.

“My officers are in touch with the agitating students and their family members. One or two students said they wanted to go back home, for which my Ministry is making arrangements,” she said.

Mufti has assured that an enquiry had already been ordered into the clashes at the NIT campus, Irani said.

She sought to allay apprehensions of the students, who feared that the agitation would have a bearing on their academic performance as exams are due to start the next week.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken with Mufti, who had assured him that all students were safe and she would enquire how the incident happened and fix the responsibility.

The students demanded that some NIT officials should be transferred and action be taken against them for their alleged “anti-national” activities and that they be allowed to daily hoist the Tricolour at the institute’s main gate. They also demanded shifting the campus to Jammu and building a temple on the premises.

Tension started brewing on the NIT campus, located at the banks of famous Dal lake, last week after India lost to West Indies in the semi-final in the World Cup T-20 cricket tournament, after which some students celebrated and  burst crackers. Some outstation students did not like it and protested against this, resulting in clashes.

Since March 31 night, the situation on campus has been volatile and the authorities have posted personnel from the Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB). The local police are manning the main gate of the institute.

The developments prompted the NIT authorities to close the campus on Saturday but reopened it on Monday. On Tuesday evening, some outstation students tried to march out of the campus, saying that they wanted to return to their hometowns.

A senior police official, who tried to pacify them, was heckled and pushed around resulting in a mild lathicharge, in which four students sustained injuries. 

A senior NIT official said some outstation students were mainly using this minor incident as an opportunity to seek migration to their home state.

The protesting students also wanted that their papers should be checked by non-local teachers to ensure “equality and transparency” during all examinations.

“There should be no academic harassment by the faculty”, a letter handed over to the NIT administration on April 4 by the outstation students stated. It listed the five demands to ensure that their stay on campus was trouble-free so that they can concentrate on their studies.
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