Published: 22nd August 2019
More Kashmiris will be afraid to go to India to study: Why Mehboob Makhdoomi is determined to start Uni4Kashmir
A Harvard alumnus, academic Mehboob Makhddomi had been crowdfunding for an International standard university in Kashmir
Mehboob Makhdoomi's family back in Kashmir does not know if he's free or safe. They do not know if he's reached Delhi or is under arrest. Talking to us over a Messenger call, sitting miles away in a foreign land, this academic talks to us about his days in the valley at the point in time when the Indian government abrogated Article 370.
A few days before August 5, he says that Kashmiris had been observing a lot of unusual happenings around them. Sometime around the last week of July, Amarnath Pilgrims were asked to leave. Non-Kashmiri students from NIT Srinagar were sent home. Migrant labourers were also forcefully asked to leave. Makhdoomi knew that something unusual was about to happen.
"There were speculations that Article 370 is going to be abrogated. But nobody was 100 per cent sure, because it seemed like something constitutionally impossible," recalls Makhdoomi. He had left the valley a few days back and was abroad when he spoke to us over a call. "There were also reports from Pakistani media houses that Yasin Malik is dead. So, people were oblivious," he says.
A Harvard alumnus, this academic has been working for the past couple of years to set up a crowdfunded international standard University in Kashmir. Named Uni4Kashmir, Makhdoomi had launched its official website in May. What could be the university's future in today's sociopolitical scenario, we sought. He says, "People in Kashmir are running around for something as basic as baby food and milk. Only time will decide the future of the project now. But, it is the need of the hour, because more Kashmiris will be afraid to go to mainland India to study," he says.
Makhdoomi observes that the people in the valley are yet to come out of the shock and accept the reality. Telephone lines and internet connections there are still not fully restored. Section 144 was imposed there and a number of extra troops were deployed to control the situation. "People in Kashmir haven't gotten a chance to react to what is happening around them. They're still in deep shock. Many are still under house arrest. Kashmiris will only react once the curfew is lifted," he says.