The issue is likely to acquire political colour with Akali leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa expected to visit Srinagar Friday to meet the victim.
New Delhi: A government Islamic university in Jammu and Kashmir is caught in a controversy following allegations that a Sikh girl student was stabbed by two unidentified men because she refused to convert to Islam.
The controversy seems set to become a political issue with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa expected to visit Srinagar Friday to meet the 18-year-old victim.
“The Kashmir government needs to take a stand on the issue…Pandits have already left the Valley. If Sikhs also leave Kashmir, it will become another Pakistan,” said Sirsa, claiming that forced conversions to Islam are increasing across the country.
The victim’s father, Amarjeet Singh, has alleged that prior to the incident on 2 July, his daughter had even tried to commit suicide, succumbing to “mental torture”.
“She was being so badly tortured by three boys and one girl — all her friends — to convert that she even tried to commit suicide thrice without telling anyone,” Singh, told ThePrint.
How it happened
Mandeep Kaur, a student of electrical engineering at the Islamic University of Science and Technology at Awantipora in Pulwama district, was allegedly attacked by two unidentified assailants on 2 July while she was waiting to board a bus to the university.
Amarjeet Singh said his daughter, who “is not in a state to talk to anyone”, had told him that the torture intensified during the month of Ramzan. “They started threatening her to keep roza, read the namaz….When she refused saying her religion doesn’t permit her to do so, they would taunt her and call her names,” he said.
“One boy even attacked her physically and caught hold of her neck once…He told her, ‘Do you not understand we have a problem with your religion. I will kill you,’” Singh claimed.
After the alleged torture intensified, Kaur became reluctant to go to college and tried to commit suicide, her father said.
“She looked weak…When she stopped going to college, I asked her, and she broke down,” he said.
“That’s when she told me she was undergoing extreme mental torture, and she can’t take it anymore,” Singh said.
On learning about the ordeal of his daughter, Singh went to the vice-chancellor, Mushtaq A. Siddiqui, who he claims, assured him that his daughter would be safe in the university.
“But on 2 July while waiting for the bus to her college, she was stabbed on her arm by two men,” he alleged.
The family, which suspects that the attack is directly linked to her refusal to convert to Islam, has registered an FIR in this regard. Three youths who had been allegedly torturing her have been arrested so far.
University suspects foul play
While civil society activists have thrown their weight behind Kaur, the university does not dismiss the possibility of foul play aimed at hate mongering. “She (Mandeep) is like my daughter, it is unfortunate that people are trying to create religious disharmony over the issue when the university has done everything to comfort her and her family,” Prof. Farooq A. Mir, registrar of the university, told ThePrint.
“When the girl’s father had come to tell us about the harassment, the vice chancellor asked him whether we should file a police complaint or not…But the father said no to that, and only requested that we extend the bus service right up to their residence to ensure the girl’s safety. We did that immediately,” he said. “We have still repeatedly been meeting her.”
Asked if the university had talked to the accused after the father complained to the vice chancellor about the alleged harassment, Mir said that one of the accused, who he had personally spoken to, told him that he asked Kaur to start wearing a hijab.
“Even to him I said that it is none of his business to tell her what she is wearing,” he said. “I’m the last person to tolerate any student being harassed for religious reasons.”
In a public statement released earlier, the university had said, “Islamic University Faculty Association (IUFA) condemns the ongoing propaganda against IUST, Awantipora, and calls for action against people, who are hell-bent on creating communal tensions in Kashmir.”
“University will always stand for interfaith unity,” it added.