A mere Instagram story posted by a non-local Hindu student studying at the National Institute of Technology in Kashmir’s Srinagar city has spiralled into such a big controversy over “blasphemy of Islam” that the institute has suspended all classes and told all students to vacate the hostels immediately.
For three days now, members of the majority Muslim community in the area have been taking out street rallies against the student, calling for his beheading.
The crowds have been captured on video chanting the slogan, “Gustakh-e-Nabi ki ek saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se juda," which translates to, "There is only one punishment for speaking against the Prophet and that is beheading." Watch here.
The NIT, where about 3,000 students from all across the country study, has reportedly told all hostel boarders “to vacate the hostels with immediate effect,” citing winter vacation. Reports say that winter vacations were originally scheduled to start on 9 December.
The institute’s website has been pulled down, with the message displaying, “We’ll be back soon! Sorry for the inconvenience but we’re performing some maintenance at the moment. If you need to you can always contact us, otherwise we’ll be back online shortly!”
Classes have been suspended, and mess service has been stopped so students vacate the hostels soon.
Not only at NIT but on-campus classes have reportedly been suspended at all colleges in Kashmir. There will be online classes from 1 December onwards.
To calm tempers, J&K Director General of Police (DGP) RR Swain on Thursday issued a statement in support of “the Prophet’s dignity and reputation.”
Swain said, “The Prophet’s (Muhammad) dignity and reputation is dear to us as much as the dignity and reputation of the country. No one will be allowed to hurt it.”
He said that the police would do their duty to “take the case to its logical conclusion.”
He also said that a two-day investigation by his team indicated the involvement of people from beyond the border in fomenting trouble and unrest in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the student was sent to his hometown in Maharashtra, but not before the Srinagar police filed a case against him under carious hate crime laws. He has also been rusticated for a year by the institute.
A first information report (FIR) was filed against the student at Nigeen Police Station under sections 295A (outraging religious feelings),153A (promoting enmity), and 153 (provocation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Srinagar police posted on X (formerly Twitter) about it, saying, “Police has taken cognisance of the incident of uploading of sensitive content against religious sentiments of a particular community by one student of NIT Srinagar. Upon receipt of communication from NIT authorities, case FIR No.156/23 u/s 295A,153A,153 IPC registered.”
On 28 November, the student shared a story on his Instagram account showing an old video of Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a former Hamas chief, making critical comments about Islam and its founder Muhammad. The Srinagar police confirmed to the media that the student had taken the video from YouTube and reposted it, and it was not a post done by him.
Street agitations began soon after the post was noticed by his classmates. Personal posts from the student’s social media accounts are also being circulated with threatening captions. One of the posts, which shows him posing with a Muslim woman student from Kashmir, has gone viral with captions of ‘Bhagwa love trap.’
The incident comes at a time when the country is reeling under growing fanaticism over blasphemy that has resulted in a spate of killings of so-called blasphemers in the past few years, most of them Hindus.
In October 2019, Uttar Pradesh resident Kamlesh Tiwari was killed at his office in Lucknow by two Muslim men from Gujarat. Tiwari had made a comment on Islam’s founder in a pamphlet, brought in response to an insulting comment against Hindu men.
The killers later told the investigators they planned to record the killing and send it to a terror outfit.
In 2021, several rallies were taken out in various Indian cities by Muslim groups advocating beheading as mob punishment for a man named Yati Narsinghanand, for commenting on Islam’s founder at a press conference in New Delhi.
In January 2021, a man named Kishan Boliya was killed by two men named Shabbir and Imitiaz for sharing a social media post construed as being insulting to Islam.
In June 2022, a man named Kanhaiya Lal was killed at his tailoring shop by two Muslim men, who also filmed the act. Kanhaiya had shared a social media post supporting former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who was already facing beheading threats for a comment on Islam’s founder.
A week later, a man named Umesh Prahladrao Kolhe from Maharahtra’s Amravati district was murdered by two Muslim men, also for blasphemy.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!