It was an unusual scene at an examination centre at Kashmir University in Srinagar on May 11 when a journalism student, handcuffed and chained by cops, turned up to write the exam for subject titled ‘Peace Building and Conflict Mitigation’. The picture of Tahir Hussain Mir, a Kashmiri student, handcuffed at exam venue is going viral, despite a ban on some popular social media platforms in the restive Valley, where student protests have been on rise.

An orphan, whose father—a driver in Jammu and Kashmir Police—was killed in a militant attack in 2000, Tahir hails from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. He is serving detention under the Public Safety Act or PSA on charges of stone pelting and other “anti-national” activities for the past few months. Police say he has over one dozen FIRs registered against him in various police stations.

Studying at Kashmir University’s EMMRC, Mir was scheduled to appear in the exam at 11 AM, but as per the insiders, he reached the centre 20 minutes late.

One of the cops, who was holding the chain clubbed to the handcuffs, sat next to him during the exam. Witnesses say, as a security measure, around two dozen cops had cordoned off the exam centre from outside.

Students said that apart from police, the KU staff prevented Mir from interacting with his batch mates. “We simply wanted to have a word with him but some of our teachers played more loyal than the king and kept us at bay.”

Within a year of his father’s killing, Mir’s mother had also passed away. Police said that after the death of his parents, he got involved in anti-national activities.

But Mir is not an exceptional student. Since the unrest of summer 2016, the state government has jailed scores of students on charges of stone pelting while many of them subsequently appeared in exams handcuffed.

The number of such students has risen to such “alarming proportions” that Education ministry has been holding special meetings with the police to discuss how to conduct the exams.

Commenting on the issue, the KU Proctor Dr Naseer Iqbal told InUth that holding the exams for jailed Kashmiri student has turned to be a routine. “We do usually get such kind of students. Our role is that once they enter university they should feel safe to appear in exams.”

Asked if it was permissible for examinees to be kept handcuffed during exams, the proctor replied: “Well that is the baby of the police department, we cannot comment on that.”