Members of the Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena, attacked several students from Jammu and Kashmir studying in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal, PTI reported on Thursday. The police have filed a case after a video of the assault, which took place on Wednesday night, went viral on social media.

There have been several reports of Kashmiri students being harassed and beaten up in many parts of the country over the past week, since 40 Central Reserve Police Force officers were killed in a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14. Since then, many Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand have temporarily left the state. According to a report in The Hindu, nearly 300 Kashmiri students have fled to Jammu and Delhi from colleges in Uttarakhand after large-scale eviction from their campuses.

Yavatmal Superintendent of Police M Rajkumar told PTI that the students were from the Dayabhai Patel Physical Education College. They were assaulted outside their homes on Waghapur Road. “The Kashmiri students were returning home after having dinner outside when activists of Yuva Sena intercepted them and slapped them,” Rajkumar said. “The video of the incident is there in the social media. The victims lodged a complaint at Lohara police station Thursday. Police identified the culprits and have also apprehended the main accused in the incident.”

The video of the assault shows the attackers slapping the students after asking them their names and where they are from. The Yuva Sena workers verbally abuse a student and ask him if his relatives are terrorists even as the student says he has no connection with the Pulwama attack. The attackers then force the students to shout slogans such as “Vande Mataram” and “Hindustan Zindabad”.

“The attackers asked us to vacate our rooms here and return to Kashmir within four days,” one of the victims said. “We were warned that if we failed to return to Kashmir in this time frame, they will kill us. Some members in our colony intervened and saved us.”

“We have come here to study. If we go back to Kashmir the situation over there is also bad. Neither can we study there nor are we being allowed to study here,” the student added. “Where will we go? We want to study here without any tension.”

Yuva Sena promises action

“There is resentment across the country over the Pulwama terror attack,” Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray said while asked about the assault. “While it is necessary to teach Pakistan a lesson, one should realise nobody is troubled while doing so.”

Thackeray added that he would conduct an investigation into the assault and take necessary action against the perpetrators. Yuva Sena Secretary Varun Sardesai condemned the assault and also promised action.

NHRC condemns attacks

The National Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued notices to the Ministries of Home and Human Resource Development as well as the state governments of West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh seeking a reply about the harassment. The panel has also sent a notice to the Delhi Police commissioner. “Giving such bad treatment by targeting people of a particular region of the country by some elements will destroy the democratic fabric of the country,” the commission said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a petition filed by a lawyer against the alleged harassment of Kashmiris.

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