In the wake of alleged incidents of the Delhi police visiting college hostels and PGs, and inquiring about Kashmiri residents, Pinjra Tod has written to the Commissioner of Police, Amulya Patnaik, opposing such visits.
Pinjra Tod, an autonomous collective to ensure secure, affordable, and non-discriminatory accommodation for women students across Delhi, has written a letter to the Patnaik alleging that “the Delhi Police has been going college to college, PG to PG in the neighbourhoods of Delhi, trying to identify and mark Kashmiri women students over the past few days.”
Citing an alleged incident, the collective shared that the police went straight to the warden of Miranda House College to collect the list of the names of Kashmiris, and their local and permanent residences. It was only after the intervention of the college Principal that the police returned.
“It would be better if they issued warning to Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs)/hotels indulging in harassment of Kashmiri people instead of surveilling them”, said Pinjra Tod, describing another occurrence which reportedly took place in Jamia Nagar, where the police went to residential colonies, inquiring if women students and working professional staying there were from Jammu and Kashmir.
The collective accused that these visits made in the name of “students’ own protection” has on the contrary, “made people feel threatened and exposed in times when Kashmiri students are already facing public hostility from many corners.”
Pinjra Tod has also said that such “visits have been made in hostels and colleges across the University of Delhi and even off-campus residential areas around Jamia Milia Islamia.”
Linking these visits to the recent abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A by the centre and expressing their opposition towards the same, they said, “A mass hysteria around the triumph of Kashmir has been mobilised to polarize the country, unleashing the most Islamophobic, misogynistic, and genocidal impulses in our society” and these police visits and enquiries have “fueled fears of persecution in an atmosphere where the Indian state has acted against all its own constitutional commitments and past assurances.”
“This intimidation of Kashmiri women students has not stopped with the submission of our letter. Two days ago, Delhi police approached the Indraprastha College authorities and demanded information on Kashmiri students who lived in the hostel. In a context when Kashmiri students are being targeted, harassed and evicted out of houses, these steps taken by the Delhi Police only adds to their sense of insecurity on campus and leads to further targeting,” said Diya Davis, a member of Pinjra Tod.
They have demanded the police to be more “receptive and quick to act on any instances of harassment being reported by Kashmiri students, by landlords, neighbours and others.”
It is to be noted that on 5th August, on the day of the scrapping of the special status granted to Kashmir, Patnaik had issued directions for enhancing police presence in vulnerable areas and places frequented by Kashmiri people such as university campuses and markets in the national capital.
“Enhanced police presence will inspire confidence among the Kashmiri residents,” a senior official had said.
The veracity of the occurrences is yet to be ascertained.
Feature Image Credits: Pinjra Tod