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Nazir Giloo

Srinagar 18 Nov: Next time you visit Kashmir University, avoid hanging around unnecessarily for more than an hour because if you do, you might be fined or could even have strict action taken against you by the varsity officials.
Yes, this is one among 12 advisories that the office of the chief proctor, Kashmir University, has issued to its students and to guests visiting the varsity, with an intention to “bring discipline inside the campus”.

Discussions over political and religious issues that “may cause hatred for each other” won’t be allowed within the campus. Students have also been advised not to scream or yell at anyone when on campus.

Prohibiting all “obscene and inappropriate” acts, the circular advises students to exhibit “pleasant and acceptable behavior”. More, students have been advised to “speak softly to avoid disturbing others”.

Further, smoking and wrong parking, both of which have been found to be extensively indulged in by varsity staff, have been prohibited. Students have also been advised not to consume intoxicating substances within the campus premises.

Though the officials maintain that the advisories are only aimed at maintaining campus decency, the students have, however, foreseen these directives as “shadows of strict censorship to keep the students under control”.

Taking exception to a directive advising students to desist from discussing political and religious issues, the students say this one in particular has been woven around other “genuine concerns” faced by the student community.

“Though we have no issues with maintaining decency inside campus, but the aim should not be to contain the voice of the students. At this level, a student is supposed to discuss any and all issues concerning her or him, including politics and religion,” a group of students told Kashmir Reader.

They alleged that the officials don’t want students to assemble or gather at one place to discuss issues, and that, they say, is the reason students have been advised not to stay at one place for more than an hour.

“Decency is just an excuse. Otherwise if the proctor’s office finds any wrongdoing anywhere or if someone complains to them about any misdemeanour, they should take action against the culprits. The entire student community can’t be made victims for wrongs of a few,” the students said.

KU chief proctor Naseer Iqbal says that the advisories were issued just to maintain “academic discipline” within the campus and refuses any ulterior motive.

“The advisories were issued after we received such feedback from students. We don’t want the ambience of this highest institution be disturbed by a section of students, including outsiders,” Iqbal said.

When asked about not allowing students to discuss political and religious issues within the campus, he said that the students should focus only on academics.

“It’s a section of students that does these acts and disturbs other students. There are other issues like economy, culture and social issues that students can freely discuss anywhere in the campus,” he said, adding that the “advisories will also be applicable to the staff of the varsity”.KR