Maharashtra: Worried about safety, Kashmiri students meet Pune Police Commissioner

Pune: Days after two Kashmiri students were assaulted in Haryana, the Valley students and professionals working in Pune have sought an appointment of a “dedicated nodal police officer” to address their issues. Around 100 students and professionals, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, met Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla on Saturday and expressed concerns regarding their safety in the city.

The interaction was organised by Sarhad, a city-based education institute cum NGO, working on a mission to provide education to the Kashmiri youth and bring them to the mainstream. Over 400 students, including girls, from Jammu and Kashmir are pursuing education in Pune at present. Two students from Jammu and Kashmir were thrashed allegedly by nearly 15 people on February 2 evening in Haryana’s Mahendragarh after Friday prayers.

During the interaction with Shukla, Owais Wani, a post-graduation student, said youths like him have no one to contact with except Sarhad founder Sanjay Nahar. “….If any incident happens with any Kashmiri student or working professional, his or her only point of contact is Nahar Sir. Someone like a special nodal police officer, preferably from J&K, should be appointed in Pune to address the issues of Kashmiri students studying here,” Wani said.

Wani said he was talking to Shukla without any fear now but cannot do so with other police authorities who he might have to approach in case of any incident. “Once I went to a firm for an interview but the moment the company officials came to know that I belonged to J&K, they refused to entertain me and did not even interview me,” he said. While accepting the plea partially, Shukla said a police inspector or an ACP-rank officer will be designated who will coordinate with students and local police authorities, in case of any tension or incident.

Some students shared their experience and incidents that how they were treated by the police as well as other authorities. “Since we all belong to J&K, sometimes, people including the local authorities look at us with suspicion and even become judgemental,” complained one of the students. On the other hand, a young woman said that after completing her mass-communication course in Shimla, she started working in Delhi before moving to Pune for safety reasons.

“Pune is quite peaceful and safe,” she said. Meanwhile, Nahar told PTI that the meeting with Shukla was a fruitful one. “Pune has been the second home for the Kashmiri youth who think that it is one of the safest cities in the country. With the police commissioner promising to designate a dedicated police officer to address the issues of Kashmiri students, we will together create such a mechanism here, which will be ideal for other states and cities also, in order to bridge the gap between Kashmiri students and local people,” he said.

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