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University tense after cricket dispute

BBC News BBC News 6/04/2016

Tensions are high at a university in Indian-administered Kashmir following a row sparked by a cricket match.

Students and police clashed at the National Institute of Technology in the summer capital Srinagar, with police baton-charging students.

The mood had soured after India lost to West Indies in the World T20 cricket semi-final on Thursday.

Non-Kashmiris say local students cheered as India lost, stopping others from unfurling the national flag.

Campus authorities had to suspend classes amid security concerns after clashes broke out between the two sides.

Paramilitary police have now been deployed to maintain order.

Many people in the territory - especially in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley - do not want it to be governed by India. They would prefer to be either independent or part of Pakistan.

The territory has been the spark for two of the three India-Pakistan wars: the first in 1947-8, the second in 1965.

March halted

Classes resumed this week but on Tuesday night the non-Kashmiri students attempted to march out of the campus and were stopped at the main gate by police.

"The students assaulted policemen including officers and started throwing stones," a police spokesman told BBC Hindi.

"This resulted in damage to public property. The police chased the mob and some of the students got injured."

Twelve students were injured in the police baton charge. Students accused police of confiscating the national flag they were carrying.

Classes resumed on Wednesday but many students have been boycotting classes in protest.

Some of the non-Kashmiri students have issued a letter to the university, saying they face discrimination and demanding that India's national flag be hoisted at the institution, alongside the Kashmiri state flag.

Education Minister Smriti Irani has sent government officials to the campus, and pledged to ensure a safe environment for students.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had also sought assurances from the state's newly appointed chief minister Mehbooba Mufti over the issue.

The incident comes two months after the student leader of India's premier Jawaharlal Nehru University was arrested on "sedition" charges for allegedly chanting "anti-national" slogans.

The arrest sparked protests and a debate on nationalism in India.

He was freed on bail in March but the government has stuck to its stand that it will punish "anti-national elements".

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