Focus

Delhi protest for Kashmir

By Aamena Khan

New Delhi: "Voice of People – I Protest" organized a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar, here on 7 and 8 August. Members of the civil society, human rights activists and quite a few Kashmiris living in the capital, mainly students, gathered to register their protest and speak about their experience of life in Kashmir. Most recounted tales of horror of the atrocities suffered by them at the hands of the security forces while some wondered whether their children would get to see the Kashmir their forefathers talked of, from which they themselves have been deprived. The prominent demands put forward included declaring Kashmir a no-weapon-zone within 500 days alongwith a withdrawal of troops from civilian areas and withdrawal of section 144, AFSPA, PSA and DAA and the release of prisoners held under PSA. A lot of Kashmiri protesters voiced their demand for a separate and independent Kashmir and called for the 13th of August to be celebrated as Kashimiri Independence Day. They thanked "Indians" who supported them.

Just a few steps away, the police made a "border" of sorts to separate a few Kashmiri Pandits who were "protesting" against the other protesters. These Pandits were shouting "Ghaddaron ko Goli Maro" (Shoot the traitors) referring to the Kashmiris who were demanding an azad (independent) Kashmir. The police wasn’t allowing "Muslims" to cross this "border" to approach the area where the Pandits were protesting. Though other media persons were freely moving, I wasn’t lucky because of my hijab. A Muslim policeman told me to go away otherwise he will be in trouble with his superiors.

As evening fell, the protesters lighted candles and continued their protest. A lot of passion and slogan shouting welcomed Professor SAR Geelani of Delhi University as he emerged late into the evening with a bodyguard at his side. He expressed his solidarity with the protesters and his speech was punctuated with loud applause. The seriousness of the issue was writ large on the grim faces of the protesters who hoped against hope that those who matter will not continue to ignore the main problems of the Kashmir issue.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2010 on page no. 1

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