KOLKATA: Close to five hundred people came out in a rally on 15th July, to protest the ongoing killings and mayhem in Kashmir by the State forces.
The rally was organised by various civil society groups, human rights networks, student bodies and ordinary citizens of Kolkata.
The participants assembled in a popular meeting place in central Kolkata, College Square, carrying posters, flags and placards and walked till Sealdah station, also located in the central areas. The rally is part of a week long programme in Kolkata to protest state repression and to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
Large numbers assembled in College Square, opposite Calcutta University, with many carrying posters with names of the people killed in police firing Azad Hussain (25), Shopian, Umar Shafi (16), Achabal or Amir Nazir Lattoo (22) of Bijbehera etc. Slogans with a catchline, Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris were pasted on the ground in College Square.
Slogans demanding Azadi [freedom] for Kashmir were raised and even school boys participated in the rally. However majority of the participants were from various colleges and universities of the State, while many academics, rights activists or even supporters of specific political parties, including the ruling party, could be seen. Former Head of the Department, Bangla, Presidency University, Sabyasachi Deb was quoted by The Hindu as saying that he participated in the rally to register his protest.
Why young boys like Burhan Wani are taking up arms is a not question that nobody is asking. Rather the State is seeking a solution by killing more and more civilians. It is shameful, barbaric and would never produce a solution, said Prof. Deb. He said that the officials of the State should immediately stop killing the people and seek a dialogue-driven solution to the problem. Vice president of civil rights group, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights [APDR], Ranjit Sur demanded a referendum.The people of Kashmir are fighting for their autonomy. They have the right to decide their own fate. Despite promising to hold referendum in Kashmir, regarding the demand of autonomy, the Government of India has not done so, over decades, Mr. Sur said.
BOOK ON KASHMIR
Earlier in the week, releasing a book on Kashmir, women activists from the valley said that a new wave can now be experienced in Kashmir and that is participation of the women in the freedom struggle. Whether it is using the digital platforms to disseminate information from the house, hit the road to confront forces or researching incidents of violence women are in the forefront, said two Kashmiri researchers.
Ifrah Butt and Natasha Rather are the two researcher-activists, who addressed at least five public meetings in Kolkata, and said that Kashmiri society has changed.
Meanwhile a similar protest scheduled in Bangalore city on Friday was disallowed by police. Kashmiris residing in the city along with Kashmir sympathisers had planned to hold a sit-in at the city Town Hall but were informed by police at the last minute that the permission given has been withdrawn, activists told Kashmir Observer. Police, they said, gave no reason for the last minute change.
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