On Sunday, Kher was stopped by Jammu and Kashmir Police at the airport and not allowed to visit the NIT.
Srinagar: Bollywood actor Anupam Kher was on Sunday stopped at the Srinagar airport by the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to prevent him from visiting the NIT Srinagar campus, which witnessed disturbances past week.
The officials justified the move saying that Kher accompanied by filmmaker and social activist Ashok Pandit had planned their visit to the institute to meet protesting outstation students at a time when situation was limping back to normal following a series of rounds of talks the State government functionaries and Union Human Resources Development Ministry officials have had with them over the past three days. The officials said that the duo was being sent back to Delhi by Air India flight which was scheduled to take off at 12.30 PM.
In the afternoon, Kher tweeted “My view of Kashmir was clouded today. But i am sure these clouds will clear one day. There’ll b sunlight.:)#Optimism”. In another tweet, he said, “As i return from Srinagar airport, my heart is heavy but i have hope that things will change & become better. I remain an #EternalOptimist.” Yet another one read, “Thank you Srinagar airport staff, J&K Police & other authorities for your warmth & hospitality while i was at d airport. I will be back.:)”
The 61-year-old actor, a Kashmiri Pandit, had earlier voiced concerns over the recent incidents on the NIT Srinagar campus particularly the April 5 police cane-charge against protesting outstation students leaving many of them injured.
On Sunday morning, Kher wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.com “Landed in Srinagar. ‘HOME’ away from home. Will go to#NITSrinagar & meet the students & give them a warm hug & a special gift.:)”
In the next tweet he said, “I have been told by J&K police that I cannot enter Srinagar city at all. I have asked them to show me the orders. Still at the airport.”.
After being stopped at the airport, he also tweeted, “Asked J&K Police if I can visit my ancestral home or Kheer Bhawani temple. Even that is not allowed. Basically it is #AirportArrest”
In a series of tweets, he sought to encourage the protesting outstation students. “Dear #NITSrinagar Students: Country loves & Salutes ur Nationalism & Courage. Keep it up. Work Hard & Good luck for your exams. #Blessings,” read one of these. His another tweet was “Dear #NITSrinagar students: Your courage has been Loud & Clear. Now show victory with your exam results. I send you my love from d airport”.
Police sources said that Kher after being denied permission to come out of the airport to visit NIT Srinagar insisted on visiting Shankaracharya and Kheerbhawani temples and a cousin sister’s home in Srinagar’s Shivpora locality but was refused permission.
The state authorities believed that his visit to NIT Srinagar could create problems and even destabilize the effort of the government to restore normalcy on the campus. A senior police official who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The decision to prevent Kher and Pandit from visiting the campus was taken in order to prevent any further disturbance on the campus.” Pandit had earlier alleged in a tweet that J&K police was a force of anti nationals “who look towards Pakistan.”
IGP Kashmir, Syed Javed Mujtaba Gilani, DIG Central Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and SSP Budgam Fayaz Ahmad Lone who met the duo at the airport persuaded them to return after explaining that the joint effort of the J&K government and the HRD ministry to restore normalcy at the NIT Srinagar is yielding “positive results” and that their visit to the campus at this stage could undermine it. They were also told that the authorities have already accepted all “genuine” demands of the protesting students and a meeting of the board of directors of the NIT is scheduled to take place early next week to discuss the improving amenities on the campus and address the students’ academic concerns.
The campus had on April 1 witnessed clashes after Kashmiri students celebrated India’s defeat at the hands of West Indies in ICC Twenty-20 semi final by chanting pro-Pakistan slogans and lightening fireworks. Exasperated by it, the outstation students who outnumber the locals allegedly attacked them, leading to clashes and closure of the campus for students for four days.
On Tuesday evening, the outstation students attempted to leave the campus but were confronted by local police which used force, leaving many students injured. The incident evoked outrage across the country and many people took to social networking sites to denounce police action although video footage released by police shows students damaging the institute property and attacking policemen. The Centre rushed a two-member team of HRDM to hold talks with outstation students and asses the overall situation on the campus. Also, CRPF and SSB personnel in strength were deployed on the campus.
Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday ordered a ‘time-bound’ probe into the incidents of violence including a police cane-charge at protesting outstation student