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When CM Chose To Bow for Realpolitik




Of   Examinations Postponed  


Those were the times; the state government had adopted deferment of examinations as the state policy.   In the seventies, when my friends and I joined campus the state had got a new chief minister Syed Mir Qasim  after the death of Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq in harness in December 1971. Those days it was on the grapevine, the Chief Minister, who had played havoc with the state autonomy in line with the Faustian Agreement for power had died more of a shock than diseases when informed by the Prime Minister of having lost his utility.  The delaying of the examination was used as a policy to reduce the number of educated unemployed in the market. I remember, when we joined the first year of masters then called as ‘previous’  in the Kashmir University instead of two classes there were four classes of post-graduate students in every department termed as new-previous, old-previous, new final and old- final. Moreover, instead of two years, it took almost four years for a student to complete post-graduation.Kashmir-University

It was frustrating to see our friends who had gone to Aligarh Muslim University and Delhi University for post graduation returned with a degree when our batch was yet to sit for their first-year examination. One, fine morning a group of student activists agitated over government postponing for achieving political ends called on the Vice Chancellor- a meek fellow, an IAS officer of UP cadre. His failure to give a plausible explanation for postponing of examinations caused anger in students- shutting the door they cried with one voice, ‘we went direct promotion.’ Hundreds of students- boys and girls by the noon time gathered on the lawns in front of the Vice Chancellor’s office. There were no shrill whistles or shouts of disapproval or catcalls as we see these days in campus agitations, but only slogans rented the air. Students at their full pitch raised the slogans like ‘down with delaying-examination,’ some boy ingeniously raised a slogan, ‘no examination we want direct promotion.’  As  time ticked on the slogan got shortened, ‘we want D.P- we want D.P.’

To pacify the students at about 4 P.M. Dean of Student’s Welfare, Abdul Aziz, a soft-spoken person informed the students that Vice Chancellor had called an emergency meeting of all heads of departments to take a decision and asked the students to disperse. For the failure of the meeting to arrive at a decision, the situation took an ugly turn when students locked the Vice Chancellor and all HODs from outside and informed them they would be set free only after conceding the demands. Ten in the night police raided the University, more than two hundred students  arrested, and a hundred others escaped the arrest. Most of the boys put in lock-ups in various police stations , and some activists lodged in Srinagar Central Jail. Moreover, a senior officer threatened them of detaining them under PDA.

The ‘no examination and direct promotion’ demand by a student made banner headlines in New Delhi newspapers. For arresting the students, then towering leader Sheikh Abdullah patted not only the government on the back but also warned students of facing public wrath. The Chief Minister realizing that the arrest of student activists could trigger strikes in colleges and spiral into a student agitation was not swayed by the statement of then popular leader. Instead, of sitting on prestige, he asked the police to release all students including the activists without filling any cases against them and agreed to concede to the demands of the students of allowing carrying on the system in the University.  It was Chief Minister’s pragmatism that saved the State from plunging into a big student agitation.

Published in Greater Kashmir on 30-10-2016



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