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SRINAGAR: Hundreds of students studying at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Tuesday held a silent protest march demanding the withdrawal of sedition case against three Kashmiri students who held a prayer meet for slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Mannan Wani last week. The students marched outside the varsity campus carrying placards, which read: ''Being a Kashmiri is not a crime.'' The students also pasted posters on the walls of the varsity demanding the withdrawal of the sedition case against three students and their suspension.

The silent protest was held during a function held for alumni of the reputed university. All this happened shortly after former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference chief Omar Abdullah accused PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti of showing 'fake sympathy' with sedition case accused Kashmiri students of Aligarh Muslim University and shedding crocodile tears over the encounter of slain Hizbul Mujahideen Mannan Wani.

"How short Mufti's memory is! She forgets that she was the architect and beneficiary (it kept her allies in good humour) for her entire period in office. She is in no position to criticise anyone for 'relentless violence'," Omar wrote on Twitter. It may be recalled that Mehbooba Mufti has come out in support of three Kashmiri students of the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who have been charged with sedition for trying to hold a prayer meeting for slain Hizbul Mujahideen Wani.

"Pushing youth to the wall will be counter-productive. Centre must intervene in withdrawing cases against students & AMU authorities must revoke their suspension. The respective State governments outside JK should be sensitive to the situation & prevent further alienation," Mehbooba had tweeted. The PDP chief also described Wani as a "victim of relentless violence in Kashmir". "It will be a travesty to punish them for remembering their former colleague who was a victim of relentless violence in Kashmir," she said in another tweet.

Wani, a research scholar-turned-militant Mannan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces last week. Abdullah's remarks came shortly after Mufti described Wani a "victim of relentless violence". Omar was responding to Mehbooba's tweets in which she called for the withdrawal of cases against Kashmiri students studying in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and described Wani as "a victim of relentless violence in Kashmir".

Omar said Mehbooba headed the Unified Command which "directed the security forces to execute 'Operation All-out' and she famously justified the killing of young protestors in 2016 saying 'they aren't coming out to buy milk or toffees'. "Ms Mufti's Govt (government) made every effort to trap and kill Manan Wani coming close a few times. Her fake sympathy and crocodile tears for dead Kashmiri militants worked for a few years, they won't work again," the NC leader added.

The fresh war of words between the two erupted after a group of Kashmiri students studying at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh threatened to leave for their homes on October 17 if the sedition charges pressed against them are not dropped. AMU students' union former vice-president Sajjad Rathar had written a letter to the AMU vice-chancellor in which he said that more than 1,200 Kashmiri students will leave for their homes in the Kashmir Valley on October 17 ''if this vilification does not stop''.

Rathar also termed the sedition charges slapped against three Kashmiri students as "vendetta". In his letter, Rathar said, ''The option of holding Namaaz-e-Janaza (prayer meeting) in absentia was dropped after the AMU authorities did not give the permission." "If no prayer meeting was held as confirmed by all official agencies, the slapping of a case of sedition against three Kashmiri students is simply a vendetta, harassment and denial of justice," he alleged.

Rathar's letter was handed over to AMU Proctor Mohsin Khan in presence of a large number of Kashmiri students at his office on Saturday night. AMU spokesman Shafay Kidwai rejected the Kashmiri students' charges of harassment and stressed that "no innocent would be framed". Prof. Kidwai also made it clear that "there is zero tolerance for any anti-national activity on AMU campus".

Three Kashmiri students of AMU were booked on sedition charges for allegedly for raising "anti-India" slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Bashir Wani on October 12. Twenty-seven-year-old Wani, pursuing a Ph.D course in Allied Geology at the AMU, had quit the university and joined militant ranks in January this year. He was killed in an encounter at Shatgund village in Handwara area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district on Thursday.

Aligarh's Senior Superintendent of Police Ajai Sahni while speaking to Press Trust of Kashmir over Phone said that the police took the action after a video surfaced showing the three Kashmiri students raising "anti-India" slogans. "Police have filed an FIR against Wasim Malik, Abdul Mir and one unnamed person. They have been identified on the basis of a video recording," he said.

Meanwhile Prof Kidwai said show-cause notices have been issued to nine students for trying to hold an unauthorised gathering on Thursday. The university has also set up a three-member inquiry committee to probe the incident. However minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) incident where three students were booked on sedition charges for allegedly for raising ‘anti-India’ slogans should not be politicised.

The panel has been asked to submit a report in the next 72 hours. The three students were suspended from the AMU earlier. The matter came to light after some AMU students from Kashmir gathered near Kennedy Hall on the campus to hold funeral prayers for Wani, following which the varsity staff and the students union leaders had rushed to the spot and tried to stop them.