Campaign on Kashmiri families ends in protests

Outcry:Kashmiri students shouting slogans being calmed down at the United Theological College in Bengaluru on Saturday.— Photo: K. Murali Kumar  

The abrupt end of an event organised by Amnesty International India on Saturday to highlight the plight of families in Kashmir resulted in verbal clashes between groups of people on the sensitive issue.

The organisers had been told to end the discussion exactly at 8.30 p.m. While the programme was fraught with arguments and counter-arguments, the abrupt ending in the middle of a performance by Kashmiri hip-hop artiste, M.C. Kash, led to tempers flaring.

The artiste told The Hindu that he had expected to play five songs, all pertaining to the conflict at the “land of bloody crackdowns”. The cutting short of his second song (as the police insisted the mikes be switched off) led to the crowd of young Kashmiris shouting pro-Kashmir Independence slogans. Even as some members of the student community attempted to calm them, outside the hall at United Theological College, a group of Kashmiri Pandits were shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” while demanding that students “be arrested for seditious statements”.

There were multiple flashpoints in the discussions, which interrupted the proceedings. The small group of Kashmiri Pandits and the students sparred over the depictions of the Indian Army, as well as attempts to control the narrative.

Amnesty International’s Broken Families campaign featured three Kashmiri families whose kin were killed during military action in the troubled region.

An emotional Ali Mohammad Shah, whose son was allegedly killed by Army personnel in 2002, says the Army had picked up his son for interrogation. “He was dropped off at Beerwah police station and clearly, he had been tortured. He could not even speak. He slipped into coma and died the next day…He was innocent, and was killed just based on suspicion,” he said.

Similarly, the fates of Shahzad Ahmad Khan — who was reportedly killed in a fake encounter on the India-Pakistan border — and Manzoor Ahmad Mir — whose body was found 16 years after he was allegedly kidnapped by the Army — were told in stirring narrations. The campaign started in Bengaluru, and will proceed to other metros of the country and end in a petition to be submitted to the Union government.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 1:09:56 PM |

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