Are Kashmiri Students Safe Anywhere? South Delhi Landlady Abuses Tenant, Labels Her a Terrorist

Social Commentary

Are Kashmiri Students Safe Anywhere? South Delhi Landlady Abuses Tenant, Labels Her a Terrorist

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

In India, stereotypes and prejudices about Kashmir continue to affect the lives of Kashmiris living in other parts of the country. Yesterday, October 15, a Kashmiri woman living in Delhi shared her experience of abuse at the hands of her landlady on Twitter.

Police in Southeast Delhi received a call regarding a theft at the victim’s house from the landlady. However, the tenant of the flat accused the landlady of breaking the locks herself and stealing furniture, clothes, and money amounting to ₹20,000. She also said that her landlady had entered the flat with an unidentified man and physically attacked her, while calling her a terrorist and making further threats. There was also a constable of the Delhi Police present who did not intervene.

So my landlady enters my house along with a man , that i have never seen in my whole life and starts to call me and my friends ‘TERRORISTS’ just because we are from KASHMIR that too, in front of a police official. They trespassed, broke in and our money, furniture.

— Noor (@noorbhat1998) October 14, 2020

The police found that the relationship between the landlady and the tenant has been fractious in the past as well. There had been an earlier dispute over electricity bills, after which, the tenant claimed the landlady sent a man to remove her meter, who also hit her. In yesterday’s confrontation, the landlady displayed a strong streak of prejudice against the tenant because of her identity as a Kashmiri. A student in the national capital, the tenant is obviously no terrorist, but the landlady chose to accuse her of that regardless.

This is Noor, a Kashmiri student. Listen to her ordeal of last night. She alleges
that her landlord had called her a ‘Terrorist’ in front of the Delhi Police. Name calling, labelling is the new idea of India. #Kashmir @noorbhat1998

— Muhammad Wajihulla (@wajihulla) October 15, 2020

It’s not the first time that Kashmiris have faced discrimination or abuse in other parts of India. Sadly, it probably won’t be the last either. After the woman shared her experience on Twitter, fellow Kashmiris came forward with their own stories of harassment. One user shared how she was in school when she was the target of bullying after the Pulwama attack took place.

Being called a “terrorist” is almost every kashmiri students story, I have lived in delhi for 3 years, I remember how I was harassed constantly after pulwama attacked took place, I was in school back then & I remember on scribble day, “pathar baaz” was written on my shirt.

— Faseeha Malik (@faseehamalikk) October 15, 2020

Another popular, but anonymously operated, Twitter handle spoke of an experience in Bangalore. His house was broken into and his valuables, including electronic devices and debit cards, were stolen along with cash. He claimed his attempt to report the theft to the police was met with first indifference, and then hostility, because he hailed from Kashmir.

Many years ago, in India, burglars broke into my house, stole my gadgets, phone with active SIM, money, debit cards. I went to police to file a report, the officer refused, told me “You (Kashmiris) come here and explode bombs. We’re not responsible for you.” I was a kid then.

— Kashmir Intel (@kashmirosint) October 16, 2020

After the incident involving the Kashmiri woman and her landlady yesterday, the blatant prejudice of wide swathes of Indian society toward Kashmir lies exposed again. After the woman’s account went viral on social media, Swati Maliwal, chief of the Delhi Commission for Women, issued a notice to Delhi Police, seeking a report of action taken, arrests made, details of police personnel present at the spot, and what steps are being taken to ensure the woman’s safety.

दिल्ली में एक कश्मीरी लड़की पर मकान मालिकों द्वारा मारपीट और बदतमीज़ी की घटना सामने आई है। हम दिल्ली पुलिस को नोटिस इशू कर रहे हैं, मामले में FIR हो और जल्द से जल्द दोषियों पर कार्यवाई हो।

— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) October 15, 2020

As for the Kashmiri woman and her landlady – a case has been registered against the landlady based on the tenant’s complaint, and police are also probing the landlady’s complaint against the tenant.