DELHI (Web Desk) – Hundreds of students, trade union activists, women’s rights groups, lawyers and queer groups gathered at Jantar Mantar, wearing black bands, and condemned the violence being unleashed on unarmed civilians in Kashmir. There was also a brief intervention by a few people from right-wing groups, who shouted slogans in support of the Indian army and against the protesters.
“I don’t hate India. I hate India’s policies,” said one student who belongs to Kashmir while marching with a placard.
He also said that India must understand that there must be a reason for the protests that have been in happening in the valley for nearly two decades now.
Another Kashmiri student present at the protest told that while “tourists are treated with respect (in Kashmir)”, “every Kashmiri, when he is outside, he is treated as a terrorist”. “That is why we don’t want India or Pakistan. We want only our Kashmir.” he told to youth ki awaz.
They marched silently, with placards in their hands saying ’36 Civilians Dead in 4 Days – Stop the Killings NOW’, ‘Pellets Cost Kashmiri Protesters Their Eyes, Stop Using Pellets and Bullets to Control Civilian Protests’, Kashmir Is A Political Issue – Can’t Be Resolved At Gunpoint’, ‘Govt Must Initiate Dialogue for a Peaceful Political Solution in Kashmir’ and “Repeal AFSPA’. They also held placards with the names of each of those killed on Kashmir streets in the past few days – including 36 Kashmiri civilians and one policeman – with the slogan ‘Will Not Be Forgotten’.
Addressing the protest, civil society activist Shabnam Hashmi said that the Indian government needs to take a humane approach to Kashmir.
JNUSU Vice-President, Shehla Rashid, said that unless the government works for a long-term political solution for the issue of Kashmir that is in keeping with the wishes of the Kashmiri people, such events will keep happening.
The Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, appealed to all Indian citizens to step away from the shrill media propaganda over Kashmir, and open their hearts and minds to the voices of the Kashmiri people.
The speakers also spoke about the recent decision of the Supreme Court to order a probe into 1,528 alleged fake encounters in Manipur to denounce the heavy deployment of the army in Kashmir. The order questions the continuation of AFSPA and the deployment of the army in the state. That Burhan Wani was not known to have participated in a combat by the time of his death and had said that his organisation- the Hizbul Mujahideen- will not attack Amarnath pilgrims in a recent video was also brought to light by the speakers.
Many others added that mourning cannot be criminalised. The gathering was addressed by Kumar Sundaram of the CNDP, Gautam Mody of NTUI, Ish Mishra of Janhastakshep, Salman Nizami and many others. Several filmmakers, writers, artists, media persons, activists and a large number of students of Delhi University and JNU participated in the protest.