A group of Kashmiri citizens, led by student activist Shehla Rashid, has expressed concern at the slow pace of investigation in the assault on an IUST student.
IUST student belonging to minority Sikh community was attacked while she was waiting for the university bus near her home in Tral township, in South Kashmir. “The survivor has pointed to prior attacks on her that were communally motivated,” the statement signed by a dozen others and sent to The Kashmir Walla said.
“She had been threatened in very serious terms by one of her classmates, Yawar, who, she claims, had even tried to strangle her once in the class. On speaking to the family, we learned that the survivor had stopped going to college because of all these incidents. Even though the family had complained to the Vice-Chancellor, the University failed to take any actions against the students who were routinely harassing her on a communal basis”, the statement alleged.
The group said that they were shocked by the ‘lax statement’ issued by the University authorities. “They dismiss the incidents of communal targeting as a ‘joke’ played on her by her classmates. We, as concerned citizens, would like to state that incidents of such serious nature cannot be brushed aside as a ‘joke’.”
“Bullying a girl from a minority community and asking her to offer namaz, cover her head, etc. is not a joke; it is a blot on our society,” the group said.
The group alleged that the university authorities, despite having known about this incident, and despite having been repeatedly apprised of the harassment meted out to the girl, failed to act against the culprits.
“We would like to state that the responsibility of ensuring communal harmony is on the members of the majority community. We condemn the victim-blaming attitude that has been on display ever since the incident has come to light. It is of utmost importance that we stand by the survivor and give weightage to her testimony. The girl was stabbed and has suffered an injury in her hand. Had her hand not come in the way, the attack could have proved fatal. This is an objective fact. Whether the attackers are the same as the people who had threatened her earlier is the subject matter of police investigation. However, it appears that the Police is acting under pressure and that they are not enthusiastic about carrying on the investigation. We demand immediate arrests of the culprits who were involved in carrying out and planning the incident.”
“The socio-cultural and religious rights of minorities in the state are non-negotiable and we stand strongly by the survivor in her fight for justice,” it said.