Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | May 23, 2006 20:08 IST
Students of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have demanded reservation for them in India's elite educational institutions.
"We want quotas in the Indian Institute of Management, the Indian Institute of Technology and law colleges of India. India should not ignore us," said Shafquat Ali Inqlabi, a resident of Gilgit, told rediff.com.
Inqlabi and other 18 others are visiting India to participate in a conference organised by the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management to discuss 'Alternative Futures' for Jammu and Kashmir on May 19-20.
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Inqlabi says, "Indian maps always show Gilgit and Baltistan as part of India. The Constitution of India mentions that we are part of India. In your eyes, we are Indians and Pakistan has 'occupied' Indian territory. Then, why should we not get admissions in the IIMs and the IITs?" he says, adding, "I am an engineer, but now, I want to study law in the best of Indian law colleges. Help me get admission."
One of the demands made in a resolution unanimously passed by the conference -- which had the tacit support of Indian government -- says, 'The Government of India should provide openings in higher, professional and technical educational institutions to deserving students from Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who are denied necessary facilities for such education.'
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The Karakoram University is the only institution for higher studies in Gilgit-Baltistan. The members of the delegation claimed that it does not have proper facilities.
Inqlabi, a political activist, says, "India should either accept us as Indians or give up claim on the territory."
In view of the All Party Hurriyat Conference's rejecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation to attend the second roundtable conference on Kashmir, the conference presented the ground realities about the future of Kashmir.
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Editor of Public Opinions and Trends Sushant Sareen says, "The prime minister's roundtable on Kashmir has shown that there is no uniformity of views amongst Kashmiris. The region carries a multiplicity of views. Hurriyat, which is a non-entity, is getting attention it doesn't deserve. It's high time the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who have been denied rights by Pakistan, and the people of PoK get our attention."
Dr Ajay Sahni, who organised the meeting, said, "Unfortunately, discussions on Kashmir are overwhelmingly defined by people who resort to terrorism. People who are displaced, marginalised and the voices of non-violence are neglected. Now is the time to respect those voices that have rejected terrorism."
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