Two days after the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 that left at least 40 security personnel dead, disconcerting reports began to emerge from across India: Kashmiri students and businessmen were said to be facing harassment from Hindutva mobs holding them collectively responsible for the tragedy in the Valley. Just as quickly, another trend swept over social media. People from New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other places tweeted that Kashmiris feeling threatened were welcome to find shelter in their homes.
Acknowledging the widespread fear among Kashmiris living in other parts of India, the Central Reserve Police Force on Saturday set up a helpline for people from that state who required assistence.
On Saturday, Kashmiri students in several parts of North India reported assaults and threats. In Dehradun, Uttarakhand, 12 students claimed that they were beaten by activists from right-wing organisations like Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Students from Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh also said that they were concerned about harassment of Muslim and Kashmiri students.
In Chandigarh, the Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association arranged for accommodation in a housing estate for those students who faced threats in universities or were evicted by their landlords.
After reports emerged of Kashmiri students facing harassment, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory on Saturday to all states and Union Territories to ensure their safety. The Delhi Commission for Minorities also asked the Delhi Police to be on high alert against those who try to “vitiate the atmosphere and start riots”.
Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara also used Twitter to share that Kashmiri students and residents in Bengaluru could contact they city police and police commissioner if they were facing any troubles.