Kashmiri student ousted from BITS Pilani: Truth vs Hype

It’s probably pointless to comment where people have already fixed opinions. And as expected, the mainstream media has created a victim narrative around “Hashim Sofi” already. You have to give it to them. While you ‘social media’ vigilantes who believe you bust fake propaganda- are slogging away at work, running between meetings and deadlines and even before you sit back in evening and check up on whats possibly gone wrong and think of countering the fake narratives, media has already created, marketed and sold the narrative and is zillion miles ahead.

Yet, I wander into the woods here hoping to redeem what’s smearing my Alma Mater.

Firstly- some cross-check/inputs from people on campus suggest that this scholar had joined campus barely 10 days ago. He was often seen wearing T-shirts with provocative slogans & imagery that got him into arguments with a few. What was finally in news was possibly a fall out of one of those altercations!

As an ex-BITSian, let me add- a random newbie arriving on campus at fag-end of semester in hot April is not even going to be noticed. Especially when rest of the campus is getting ready to get ‘rodded in the compres’ (final exams) and waiting to get out of the hot-oven. And definitely not, if you arrived in one end of the campus in Malviya Bhavan, bordering the desert. You really have to make some effort to get noticed and become a focus of attention for some groups of students within 10 days. Was the guy looking to provoke/agitate?

And before you make assumptions, let me also clarify, there are no student political outfits in BITS, Pilani. No, we aren’t undemocratic. There is a very active and effective Students Union. But, no SFI, AISA, NSUI, ABVP exist. None of them.

And I don’t even want to belabor the point that 99.99% students on campus are there because they slogged their rear side off to get there and continue to slog for a better future, because they don’t have any doles, grants, reservations to guarantee their future.

So please don’t JNU-ify the debate.

Coming back to the ‘scholar’ Hashim Sofi, even though he has deleted his Facebook account now (wonder why! Was it giving away too much?), this thread here by @organkster and this post here give a clear view of his radical views.

But, in media stories what you see is the two lines written on a vest. What you don’t know what he did/said, what led to it.

Yeah, I know what u are thinking. No provocation can be justification enough to push him out. Completely agree. And as someone who has been living in exile for three decades now owing to posters threatening death, I would never condone any such acts.

But, in a country where reputed award-winning intellectuals & liberals have justified that chanting “Jai Shri Ram” was reason enough to burn down people alive inside a train bogie, a scribble on a vest is. And was he really pushed out? Wish he hadn’t deleted this FB account and shared more!

Student warriors!

This incident or others, this scribble or face-offs over cricket matches in hostels- beg a different question. Why are Kashmiri students getting into confrontations in hostels/campuses so often?

There are other Kashmiris too in every city across India. Every single 5-star hotel in India and every big reputed shopping mall- has at least one, if not more, Kashmiri emporium/showroom/handicraft store run by Kashmiri Muslims. Go to any tourist destination across India- Goa to Kerala, Mahabalipuram to Mahabaleshwar, Gujarat to Gangtok, you will not have to search too far to see Kashmiri Muslims freely and happily running Kashmir-specialty shops. Actually, not just Kashmir specialty shops, you will be zapped to know how often I find them even running Rajasthani handicraft or Haryana Handloom shops in such tourist destinations. (Oh! Did I mention, I am not only a BITSian, but a Kashmiri too! So I can tell.)

How is it that these shopkeepers aren’t feeling threatened? Is it remotely possible that the ‘business-man Kashmiri’ is smart enough not to provoke his customers, not wear his Azadi-bravado on the sleeve, not show-off his hate for India inside his showroom?

Whereas the ‘student-Kashmiri’, high on the intifada zeal from back home, just back from a spell of stone-pelting during his last vacation is not! And possibly thinks he is taking the battle to the next frontier.

There is a generation of youth out there in Kashmir today, high on ISIS juice and pumped with Intifada machismo- who go out looking for trouble, be it ‘active Jihad’ of those aspiring to be the next Burhan Wani, ‘backend Jihad’ by attacking army men in combat with terrorists, ‘budding Jihad’ on streets in Srinagar kicking helmets of CRPF men or ‘soft-Jihad’ of boys elsewhere in campuses who feel the pressure to match up!

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