SRINAGAR, Aug 2: A political party floating a students’ union is no reason for any eyebrows to be raised.
But not so in- Jammu and Kashmir, where all students’ union activity is banned. And at the centre of the controversy is none other than chief minister Omar Abdullah himself.
Last week, Omar announced the formation of a National Conference Student’s Union (NCSU), kicking up a storm in the process.
‘We hope to create a huge number of young people who can present their own views with conviction and at the same time contribute to the socio-political dynamics in an environment of mutual respect and tolerance,’ he said while announcing the union’s formation.
The move, as expected, has raised the hackles of students with the Kashmir University Student’s Union (KUSU) decrying the chief minister.
‘It is an attempt by political parties to hijack genuine student activism to gain political mileage and choke the genuine voice of the students of Kashmir University,’ the KUSU said in a statement.
‘Those who claim to be the champions of democracy and student activism are the same people who would crack down on students.
They demolished the KUSU’s office and banned the organisation,’ the union added. Student politics is not allowed in Kashmir University.
In 2009, a makeshift office of the KUSU was razed by university authorities.
The following year, the registrar of the university issued a circular banning all student activism in the campus.
National Conference spokesperson Tanveer Sadiq rejected the KUSU’s criticism and called it unwarranted.
He said the NC’s students’ union was not confined to Kashmir University alone.
‘We have a general secretary from Islamic University and other office-bearers from different universities and colleges,’ Sadiq said.
The aim of forming a students’ union was to bridge the gap between political parties and the students, he added.
Naheed Iqbal, an English literature student in Kashmir University, has been appointed the NC students’ union spokesperson.
She said students would get a platform to air their problems and issues. Naheed blamed the university for keeping a tab on student activities.
On Saturday, three Kashmir University students – Abid Hafiz, Abid Nissar and Suheem Ahmad – who had met the chief minister denied being part of the NC’s students’ union after they were accused of being collaborators on Facebook.
‘We want to clarify that we went for an interactive session with the chief minister only as students,’ the journalism students said.
Their clarification was corroborated by Naheed.
‘They only had an interaction with the chief minister, people do not need to make an issue out of it,’ she said.
(The author is correspondent with The Mail Today)