Kashmiri students flee Indian backlash after suicide attack

Videos of Kashmiris being hit and mocked in Indian cities were popular on social media. Above, a Kashmiri woman passes by a random search operation in Srinagar. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Kashmiri students flee Indian backlash after suicide attack

  • The crowds shouted “traitors” and “terrorists” at the Kashmiri students’ apartments and hostels
  • More than 500 students and 100 businessmen fled back to Kashmir because of the increasing tension

SRINAGAR, India: Junaid Ayub Rather cowered alongside 30 other students in a small room for two nights while mobs chanted for their blood outside, before finally escaping the rage sweeping India after last week’s suicide bombing in Kashmir.
Similar scenes have played out across the nation as Kashmiris living away from home flee violent reprisals following the latest attack in the restive Himalayan region, which killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers.
Rather said angry crowds gathered outside hostels and apartments rented by Kashmiri students in Dehradun, north of New Delhi, shouting for the “traitors” and “terrorists” hiding inside to be shot.
“It took us four days to reach home in Kashmir with some help from police and a Muslim businessman,” Rather, who had lived in the northern city for two years, told AFP after reaching his home south of Srinagar.
“Thirty of us slept in one room for two nights before we could mobilize help to flee.”
The businessman let them take refuge in his home until buses could be organized to get them to safety.
Around 11,000 Kashmiri students enroll at Indian universities outside their home state each year.
Many are now clamoring to return home to a region battle-scarred by 30 years of civil war, fearing violent attacks if they stay.
Video footage of Kashmiris being beaten and taunted in Indian cities has been widely shared on social media, while rightwing Hindu groups and pundits on TV news channels have encouraged reprisals.
A professor from New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University this week publicly called for the execution of 40 Kashmiris to avenge the suicide bombing, while two other colleges announced they would no longer accept students from the territory.
More than 500 students, along with 100 businessmen, have already arrived back in Kashmir to flee a “climate of fear and intimidation across India,” said Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation chief Mohammad Yasin Khan.
More were on their way, he told AFP.
“We are continuously receiving distress calls from all kinds of people asking for help,” Khan said.
Some Kashmiri students have also been suspended by Indian universities for allegedly posting insensitive comments on social media about the suicide attack, while others have been arrested on sedition charges.
India’s interior ministry has ordered state governments to protect Kashmiri students — but several political leaders have also stoked aggressive anti-Kashmir sentiment since the bombing.
“Don’t visit Kashmir ... Boycott everything Kashmiri,” Meghalaya state governor Tathagata Roy wrote on Twitter.
More than 500,000 Indian troops are stationed in Kashmir, a territory administered by New Delhi but also claimed by neighboring Pakistan.
The two countries have battled three wars for control of the region, while an assortment of local insurgent groups have fought for a merger with Pakistan or outright independence.
Last week’s suicide attack was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group, based in Pakistan.
India has long accused Islamabad of giving official backing to Kashmiri rebel groups.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faces an election in the coming months and is under pressure to take a tough stand on militants, has promised those responsible for the bombing “will pay a heavy price.”
His Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan promised retaliation against any Indian attack on his country’s soil.


TIMELINE: Theresa May’s three tumultuous Downing Street years

Updated 24 May 2019
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TIMELINE: Theresa May’s three tumultuous Downing Street years

  • May bowed out after nearly three years as prime minister on Friday
  • Marked the end of a rocky spell in 10 Downing Street

LONDON: Theresa May bowed out after nearly three years as prime minister on Friday, defeated by her inability to deliver Brexit.
Here are highlights of her tumultuous time in office:

July 13, 2016 - In her first speech as prime minister, May appears in Downing Street, pledging to fight the "burning injustices" that hold people back. She promises "a country that works for everyone" but will in fact find herself spending much of her time struggling with Brexit.

(AFP)


Jan 18, 2017 - A triumphant May is portrayed on the front page of the Daily Mail next to the headline "Steel of the New Iron Lady". She has just given a defiant speech, telling Brussels: "No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain."

 


May 22, 2017 - May is forced to backtrack on an election pledge to force the elderly to pay more for care after her opinion poll lead fell by half. "Nothing has changed," she says to general incredulity.

June 4, 2017 - Responding to Britain's third militant attack in three months - the killing of seven people at London Bridge - May declared "enough is enough" and added: "Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time."

(AFP)


June 8, 2017 - Despite an apparently impregnable opinion poll lead, May loses her parliamentary majority in a general election called early. Despite repeated promises of a "strong and stable" government, her authority is in tatters.

Oct 3, 2017 - May's big speech to the Conservative Party conference was interrupted by repeated coughing fits, a prankster, and even letters of her slogan falling off the stage scenery. As a bid to reassert herslf, it had limited success.

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RELATED: British PM Theresa May resigns over Brexit failure

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Oct 3, 2018 - May startles the audience at the Conservative Party conference when she appears on stage for a speech jigging to Abba's "Dancing Queen." It was apparently a self-deprecating reference to her dancing during a recent visit to Africa, but she was nonetheless widely mocked.

(Screenshot/YouTube)

Dec 14, 2018 - A furious May is embroiled in a public row with Jean-Claude Juncker at a Brussels summit after the EU chief publicly called Britain's Brexit demands "nebulous" and "vague". Juncker joked that they had later kissed and made up, but the incident showed that relations were sub-optimal.

(Screenshot)

Dec 17, 2018 - At an EU summit in Salzburg, an unforgiving photo shows a red-jacketed May cold-shouldered by a phalanx of male leaders in dark suits.

Jan 19, 2019 - Lawmakers vote down May's Brexit divorce deal by the crushing margin of 432 to 202, the worst such defeat in modern British history. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls a vote of no confidence, which May however survives.

May 21, 2019 - In a last roll of the dice, May promises a "new deal" on Brexit. It is immediately rejected by large numbers of Conservative lawmakers and the opposition Labour Party.

(Screenshot)

May 24, 2019 - May announces she will quit, her voice breaking with emotion during a Downing Street address to the nation. She describes herself as "the second female prime minister, but certainly not the last."