The last thing Kashmir needs is yet another controversy, but one more has been triggered by R.D. Sharma, the vice-chancellor of Jammu University, during an interaction with media on campus yesterday.
Speaking at a press meet to outline the achievements of the university, which was recently awarded an A+ grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Sharma said Burhan Wani, the young Hizbul Mujahideen leader, should have been caputured alive, apprehended and sent to jail, not killed by the security forces.
Since Wani's death, Kashmir has been in a state of turmoil, with over 90 people dead in clashes with the army and hundreds injured. Scores have lost, or permanently damaged, their eyesight after being shot at with pellet guns.
Apart from imposing an Internet blockade on the state, the government has curbed press freedom, leading to scores of Kashmiri journalists taking to the streets in protest. The latest, in this series of upheavals, has been reports of schools being torched by unidentified criminals — the "mysterious enemies of education", as the Jammu and Kashmir High Court called them.
According to Greater Kashmir, Sharma urged the government to be cautious while dealing with militants, especially those like Wani, "who have footing at the grass-root level or who have well-wishers in public". While he admitted that militants are likely to get killed in military operations, "India has to introspect now as to why people were up in arms in Kashmir over the killing of Burhan Wani".
Drawing on his experiences as an educator, he said Kashmiri students have always been dedicated to their studies and industrious, seeking ways of improving their lives. The academic careers of these young people have "suffered a setback due to the prevailing turmoil for the last four months", Daily Excelsiorquoted him as saying.
Sharma also said he was pained to see the youth supporting the bandh in the Valley. "The Kashmir issue is a sensitive one which could not be resolved in the past 70 years," he added. "We should draw lessons from the failures to resolve [it]."
Recent reports suggested normalcy was limping back to Kashmir, defying the diktats of the separatists, in the past few days. Increased movement of traffic and people as well as daily trading activities have been noticed. In the education sector too, Sharma added, there have been discussions to reduce the burden of the syllabus to enable institutions to hold examinations in time.
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