A group of protesters from Kashmir, mostly relatives of those who have either been taken into custody by the police or other security forces or disappeared, were stopped by the Delhi Police when they were on their way to the Press Club of India to attend a press conference here on Friday.
The press meet was called by them to register their protest against denial of permission to Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik to stage a hunger strike here. The conference was subsequently cancelled.
Demanding that the government hand over the body of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru to his family, Mr. Malik was to stage a 48-hour protest at Jantar Mantar beginning Friday. Some of the protesters had come from the Valley.
With pictures of their family members who had allegedly disappeared in a mysterious manner or are languishing in jails for years, men, women and children left for the protest venue at Raisina Road but were soon stopped by the South East district police. Among the protesting families was that of Kashmiri separatist Maqbool Butt, who like Guru, was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail here. The protesters then sat near the Jamia Nagar police station and raised slogans against the Delhi Police.
Delhi University professor and Committee for Release of Political Prisoners working president S. A. R. Gilani condemned the decision to stop the protest and the press conference.
Defending its action, the police said that in the wake of public outrage against the death of Sarabjit Singh and Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal in the 1984 Anti-Sikh riot case, it was “not possible to allow so many people to go to New Delhi district.”
Another group protesting against the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits raised slogans against Mr. Malik near the PCI gate.