Friday, December 10, 2010
SRINAGAR — Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir arrested a college lecturer Friday on charges he gave his students an English exam filled with questions attacking India’s crackdown on demonstrations in the disputed region.
India considers it illegal to question the country’s claim to the region. For five months this summer, tens of thousands of residents took to the streets and threw stones at troops, demanding an end to Indian rule. At least 111 people – mostly teenage boys and young men – were killed in clashes with government forces, and hundreds more arrested.
The exam written by Noor Mohammed Bhat and administered to students across the region Wednesday included questions such as, “Are the stone pelters real heroes? Discuss.”
It also asked students to translate this Urdu-language text into English: “Kashmir is burning once again. The warm blood of youth is being spilled like water. Police and soldiers are beating even small children to death. Bullets are being pumped into the chests of even girls and women. People in villages and towns are crying in pain. Rulers continue to be in a deep slumber. It appears they’ve turned dumb, deaf and blind.”
Police arrested Bhat on accusations of “spreading disaffection against the state,” said Shiv Murari Sahai, a top police officer. He was also accused of promoting secession. The charges carry a seven year prison sentence.
Students were perplexed by the exam.
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“First we thought this was a new technique by (intelligence) agencies to trace what the youth are thinking and a trap for us,” said Mubashir Ahmed, one of the students. “I was apprehensive but I finally answered the questions.”
There was no immediate comment from the college or education authorities.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, which is divided between Hindu-majority India and predominately Muslim Pakistan, but claimed by both in its entirety.
Last month, police registered a case against Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and five others accused of saying Kashmir was not an integral part of India at a seminar in New Delhi.
A violent rebellion that broke out in 1989 was largely suppressed, and demands for independence or a merger with Pakistan are mainly channeled into street demonstrations.