By Fahad Shah
“We want freedom“- the slogan, a demand of the people of Indian-held-Kashmir reverberated today in the centre of India’s capital Delhi, at Jantar Mantar, just walking distance away from the parliament of this country.
Early in the evening, assembling in a large tent, erected on one side of the road, hundreds of Kashmiris reached here to protest the attack on Kashmiri pro-freedom leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The octogenarian leader was attacked by Hindu right wing groups- Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (BSKS) on March 26 when he was addressing a conference at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.
The echo of slogans could be heard from a mile far away. Raising slogans like “We want freedom”, “One slogan one track go India go back”, “O Tyrants O oppressors, leave our Kashmir” the protestors remained peaceful. While singing some revolutionary songs, most of them were holding placards like, “Indian state’s Kashmir policy- economic packages key saath mass graves” (Indian state’s Kashmir policy- mass graces with economic packages). The road was cordoned off from the two sides to stop the traffic movement towards the protest venue. Police personnel were standing around the venue in a queue to cover the whole area.
Syed Ali Geelani while addressing to the gathering via phone said, “I want to thank you all. Such attacks won’t make us weak. You should be confident that we won’t fail in this struggle. We will definitely achieve freedom from India’s occupation. The free Kashmir will be a prosperous country. There will be no clashes of regions, religions, creed, colour, or anything.” The gathering responded with slogans of Geelani being the front leader of Kashmir struggle.
The protest was organized by an organization ‘Forum for Freedom’. The statement issued by the organizers condemned the attack on Geelani. “An attack of this kind on an eighty-year-old man, who has never flinched in his integrity and who has steadfastly been committed to the cause of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is only symptomatic of the larger malaise that India has transformed into,” the statement said.
“While it is outrageous that the most respected Kashmiri leader has been attacked we need to look at things beyond. One needs to remember that it is the same state that murders, tortures, humiliates, rapes, plunders and occupies the people of Kashmir and North-East,” the statement added, calling the Indian state as the creator of Ikhwan (counter-insurgents) in Kashmir and Salwa Judum in Central India.
The parliament attack case acquitted Delhi University Professor; S A R Geelani addressed the gathering. He said, “If Bhagat Singh would have been today he would have been first to protest against organzations like BSKS and ABVP. The Kashmiri voice has always been crushed. It has been going on for long now. These attacks have become regular. In such a country which claims of being a largest democracy such repressive measures are used to crush the public voice. We will continue to demand our rights.”
The protest was focused against the attack on Geelani but it further went on to protest the killings of Gujarat, buying of out-dated weaponry from United States and Israel, Christian killings in Orissa, farmer suicides, killings in Punjab, killing of Sikhs in Delhi and the deaf and dumb approach to the demands of Irom Sharmila.
The Democratic Students Union, a revolutionary-leftist group of students in Delhi who have always been demanding the rights of people, also condemned the attack and expressed their protest by highlighting the highhandedness of India towards Kashmir, North-East, Maoists and similar others. Many students and participants spoke and expressed their protest.
Glowing tributes were paid to Ashfaq Majeed Wani who was killed by Indian troops on March 30, 1990 and Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru who was killed on April 1, 1993. The protest concluded with a famous form of Kashmiri protest- Ragda Ragda. The protestors made a circle, standing shoulder-to-shoulder and crushing the ground by feet while shouting, Crush India Here I Crush.
Photos by Waseem Gashroo