Amnesty International on Monday condemned reports of targeted attacks against Kashmiris in the country and urged India to ensure their safety, following the killing of 42 paramilitary troopers in Indian-administered Kashmir in a suicide attack last week.
The attack - the deadliest in three decades of armed rebellion in the only Muslim majority state in India - was carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri militant against a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 and was claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group.
The attack had triggered waves of protests across the country, with Kashmiri Muslims claiming they were facing violent backlash in various parts of the country.
"We are at a dangerous moment, and authorities must do everything they can to uphold the rule of law," said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty India, in a statement.
The Indian chapter of the global rights group cited media reports and said that Kashmiri Muslim students and traders were harassed and beaten up by Hindu nationalist groups in the north Indian states of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The statement said that many Kashmiri students were reported to have fled their universities in fear in these states.
Two colleges in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, and one in Moradabad of Uttar Pradesh had said they will not admit new Kashmiri students, the human rights group said in the statement.
Patel said ordinary Kashmiris, who have chosen to live across India to improve their lives, "should not be singled out for violence simply because of where they come from."
"The mobs who use patriotism as an excuse to hound Kashmiris out of their homes, hostels and shops are corroding the basic values of the constitution of India. Authorities must investigate all allegations of threats and violence, and bring those responsible to justice," the statement added.
It said the federal interior ministry had taken the right step by asking state governments to ensure the safety and security of all Kashmiris and stressed that "authorities must make sure that this situation does not deteriorate further."
The idyllic Kashmir Valley in north India has been battling three decades of an armed rebellion that has left tens of thousands dead and many more injured.
The volatile region is divided into India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, although both India and Pakistan claim complete sovereignty over the region.
India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting "cross-border terrorism" in Indian Kashmir and of sheltering terrorist groups to operate on its territory and plan attacks against Indian targets.
Pakistan denies the allegations, claiming Kashmiris were fighting their own battle for right to self-determination, while alleging that the civilian population in the disputed region were subjected to gross human rights violations by Indian security personnel.