Srinagar: On expected lines, Kashmiri separatists and various groups including bar council have strongly condemned the arrest of JNU student’s union president Kanhaiya Kumar and his comrades and registration of sedition charges against Valley-born Prof. SAR Geelani and some other students. They also pledged their “moral” support to what they alleged are victims of “intolerance” and “fascism”
Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the police action against Kumar and others as “uncalled for" and said, “It mirrors the negative policies and thinking of the people who claim to be saviours of the freedom of speech". He added that the organizers of Tuesday’s event at the JNU were not involved in any illegal activity and that the police action was “undemocratic".
Earlier hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said the action taken against Kumar and others “is totally against the democratic claims of India and freedom of expression and “grave injustice” and that “it has no constitutional and legal justification”. He said in a statement from Delhi, where he is camping for the past one week for “health reasons” that the students of JNU held a peaceful protest demonstration “to express their solidarity with the Kashmiri nation and it is not any crime.”
He added, “Many prominent leaders of India and human rights activists had raised questions over the secret hanging of (Parliament attack convict) Muhammad Afzal Guru and had termed it as a judicial murder. In this perspective, if the students in JNU also express their concern, then how can it be termed as a crime?”
Pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader, Muhammad Yasin Malik in a statement issued here also termed the police action as “undemocratic” and “an incidence of growing intolerance in India”. He said, “From last many years suppressing voices of dissent especially that of Kashmiris is worst kind of dictatorship.” He also said, “Civil society movement and freedom of speech used to be very strong in India and the Kashmiris would be invited by activists to put their point of view before Indian people. But from last many years, this has changed and Kashmir enmity and intolerance are increasing day by day.”
Malik said that things have come to such a pass that students and teachers “who staged protest against illegal and inhuman hanging of father of Kashmir nation Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and martyr Muhammad Afzal Guru demanding their mortal remains be handed over to Kashmiris are slapped with charges of sedition.” He alleged, “This act of rulers is intended to ruin the future of these students and a poly to suppress voices of dissent with force”.
Independent lawmaker and leader of regional Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) Sheikh Abdur Rashid, prominently known as Engineer Rashid, termed the police action and booking of the student leaders of JNU under sedition charges as “an eye-opener for those who have been giving illogical sermons to Kashmiris”. He said that if the government at the Centre cannot tolerate nominal peaceful protests by its own citizens in JNU, it needs no explanation what would be happening to Kashmiris at every nook and corner of state for fighting for their political rights.
The AIP leader said, “It is unfortunate that whosoever speaks truth is being labelled as enemy’s agent and a traitor. The irrational charges against student leaders speak of state’s insecurity about Kashmir.” He added, “Let world community and saner voices in India realize that if state agencies for their vested interests can persuade state to label its scholars, who are India’s future, as traitors, why should they be sparing Kashmiris”.
Kashmir University Students’ Union (KUSU) in a statement said the “witch-hunt” launched by government in New Delhi against the students who commemorated the “judicial hanging” of Guru in JNU “is yet another example of how insecure the Indian ‘collective conscience’ becomes when Kashmir issue is raised in Kashmir or in the mainland India that too in the campus of a university. This university, it said, was established in the name of India’s first Prime Minister who, in the heart of Srinagar Lal Chowk promised right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future political aspiration”.
The statement added, “The right to self-determination as demanded collectively by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is not any revelation from the JNU campus but a well-known fact known all across the world”. It also said that KUSU stands in solidarity with all the individuals, groups, organisations, intellectuals and civil society members who support Kashmir’s right to self-determination as demanded and promised alike by the United Nations....