“We want to take you to the International Criminal Court, right now!”, “You, your father and grandfather are all war criminals”. This is how the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah was welcomed at the University of California, Berkeley.
In a video clip that has gone viral, Omar Abdullah sahib is seen stopped by participating Kashmiri-American members of the audience and heckled for not answering their questions.
It may not be proper to heckle a former chief minister on a foreign soil but one can not ignore the fact that the voice of the common Kashmiri has been choked and there is hardly any space provided to the young Kashmiris to express themselves. That may explain why Kashmiri netizens on various social media platforms have supported the treatment given to a senior politician from Kashmir. There was already an online campaign going on against the University of Berkeley for inviting Omar as a representative of Kashmiri people. One of the conclusions drawn from this episode is clear that lot of water has flown down the Jehlum and the young generation of educated modern Kashmiri youth is no longer interested in being misrepresented by hoisted people. The most bizarre statements on this issue came from NC spokespersons who rather than acknowledging the truth gave a ludicrous explanation that they (Protesters) were ISI men. These people should know its the 21st century and the new generation is not as gullible to be swayed by falsehood and deceit. It is never going to be a decent way to vent out the anger but the message this incident has sent is loud and clear that the present generation no longer believe in hallow promises of the dream merchants. The greater autonomy slogan of Omar sahib’s NC seems far from reality and the autonomy resolution passed by State Legislature under NC regime has already been thrown in the dustbin. PDPs slogan of Self Rule likewise has turned out to be a cruel joke and all these people have in fact strengthened the grip of new Delhis stranglehold over Kashmir.
It is relevant to mention that during the tenure Omar Abdullah hundreds of Kashmiri civilians lost their lives to police and paramilitary firing. In 2010 civilian uprising which he repressed through use of brute force, over 100 young boys were killed, thousands of youth were arrested and tortured in jails, many minors were sodomised. This incident of heckling is a message for all mainstream leaders and calls for their introspection.
Heckling a political leader, bunking the classes for protests or even giving up the studies and picking up the gun may be due to the sheer frustration of the Kashmiri youth against the status quo. The mainstream camp has miserably failed in convincing the New Delhi to initiate dialogue with all stake holders to address the core issue of Kashmir. Omar Abdullah should show the courage to read writing on the wall and stop harping on his failed ideology and stop blaming Pakistan or ISI for his own weaknesses.
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