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UGC writes to varsities across country to ensure safety of Kashmiri students

NEW DELHI: In the wake of attack on Kashmiri students after the Pulwama incident, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Friday wrote to vice-chancellors of varsities across the country to ensure their safety on campus and to maintain peace and harmony.

The UGC was directed by the Human Resource Development Ministry Thursday to issue an advisory to all the universities to ensure that the security of Kashmiri students is not compromised.

“In the context of reports being received through various media regarding the safety of students from Kashmir studying in various higher educational institutions, all universities and colleges affiliated to them are advised to ensure the safety and protection of the students on the campus. They may keep a watch on the situation and seek support of law and order machinery in case of any untoward incident,” the UGC letter said.

The letter also requested the vice-chancellors “to look into the matter personally for the safety of the students and maintaining peace and harmony in universities/colleges”.

The announcement comes two days after Kashmiri students studying in a college in Yavatmal in Maharashtra were attacked and threatened allegedly by members of the Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena.

Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus.

AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabuddhe said, “From the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) also we have checked with all the regional officers about the students who have been sent on scholarships and there has been absolutely no problem.”

“Every college where there are students admitted under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) (scholarship to help Kashmiri students), we have asked one of the faculty members to be a counsellor so that there is no fear psychosis. That process of integration has been started two years back,” he added.

HRD Higher Education Secretary R Subramanyam said there are more than 8,600 Kashmiri students under the PMSS scheme in 600-odd institutions and AICTE and PMSSS teams are always in contact with them.

When questioned about students fleeing from institutes, he said, “We do not want to hold anyone. Our idea is to provide congenial atmosphere to study. In the last two years, AICTE has taken several steps to ensure that good quality institutions are selected and they are provided hostels.

“Despite this if someone wants to go back, our intention is not to hold them or put them in a prison. If there is any fear, we are here to support. The government is spending hundreds of crores on their education so where is the question of leaving them without adequate protection,” R Subramanyam said.

While several Kashmiri students from different cities have been slapped with sedition charges for allegedly supporting the Pulwama terror attack, two colleges in Dehradun have decided not to admit those from the Valley, with students saying they were in a state of fear after the incident.

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