The picture of Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel firing tear gas canisters inside the Government College for Women, MA Road, Srinagar has gone viral on social media for reasons more than one—and exposed how the administration seemingly mishandles such delicate situations.
On April 17, the students across Kashmir went for a daylong protest against the alleged excesses committed by police and other forces, including the recent raid at a college in Pulwama that had left scores of students wounded.
In line with the protest call, demonstrations were underway at the women’s college and the adjoining SP College on MA Road in the heart of the city. While a large contingent of police forced entry into the iconic SP College and ruthlessly beat the protesting students, the women’s college main gate was locked from inside, thereby hindering the cops from making their way in.
Seeing no other way to break through the entrance, a gap beneath the big main gate at the entrance proved a blessing for the cops. Not any peeping toms, but cops instantly bowed down to fire dozens of teargas shells. Prominent photojournalist Mubashir Khan captured this incident on his camera and subsequently shared them on social media, attracting an overwhelming response.
But the story doesn’t end with the virality of this picture. In fact, the incident raises many questions. First, when the girl students were protesting inside their college campus and the main gate was locked, why were the police compelled to target them?
Second, these twin colleges in the city centre, including SP College, are part of the recently launched the Cluster University of Srinagar. Universities are autonomous bodies and it is requisite for the police to have formal permission to enter such campuses. The concerned authorities maintained that no such permission was granted to police. So, legally speaking, didn’t the cops trespass by forcing entry into the restricted zone? And, let’s not forget that any use of force through trespass amounts to hooliganism!
With over 70 students wounded across Kashmir, and two of them, including a girl student, suffering critical brain injuries, the use of force on students has been excessive.
Pleading the action by government forces, a police handout has this to say: “While at most of the places the students protested inside their college premises, at few places in Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam the students assembled on the roads and indulged in stone pelting thus disrupting the movement of general people and traffic on busy roads. The police at these places exhibited maximum restraint and dispersed the stone pelting mobs of students by using some teargas shells.”
But then, the abuse of girl students in the regime of woman Chief Minister mocks at Mehbooba Mufti’s governance and her initiatives like Scooty finance scheme for college girls.
Let’s mind that the protests were a reaction to “unwarranted police action” on April 15 at the Government Degree College Pulwama when over 50 students were wounded. As per the college principal Prof Abdul Hamid Sheikh, the forces created complete chaos and violent situation in the educational institution by forced entry.
Call it fate or coincidence, a few months after Mehbooba launched Scooty finance scheme exclusively for college girls, police gassed students of the same college as if to balance it with the use of force on SP College boys—and to uphold the catchy one-liner: Why should boys have all the fun!