Hundreds of students, trade union activists, women’s rights groups, lawyers and queer groups gathered today at Jantar Mantar, wearing black bands, and condemned the violence being unleashed on unarmed civilians in Kashmir. They marched silently, with placards in their hands saying ’36 Civilians Dead in 4 Days – Stop the Killings NOW’, ‘Pellets Cost Kashmiri Protesters Their Eyes, Stop Using Pellets and Bullets to Control Civilian Protests’, Kashmir Is A Political Issue – Can’t Be Resolved At Gunpoint’, ‘Govt Must Initiate Dialogue for a Peaceful Political Solution in Kashmir’ and “Repeal AFSPA’. They also held placards with the names of each of those killed on Kashmir streets in the past few days – including 36 Kashmiri civilians and one policeman – with the slogan ‘Will Not Be Forgotten’.
The silent march and public meeting took place peacefully despite provocations from four or five right-wing men who raised threatening slogans but dispersed, heavily outnumbered. Addressing the protest, civil society activist Shabnam Hashmi said that the Indian government needs to take a humane approach to Kashmir. JNUSU Vice-President, Shehla Rashid, said that unless the government works for a long term political solution for the issue of Kashmir that is in keeping with the wishes of the Kashmiri people, such events will keep happening. The Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, appealed to all Indian citizens to step away from the shrill media propaganda over Kashmir, and open their hearts and minds to the voices of the Kashmiri people. Many others added that mourning cannot be criminalised. The gathering was addressed by Kumar Sundaram of the CNDP, Gautam Mody of NTUI, Ish Mishra of Janhastakshep, Salman Nizami and many others. Several filmmakers, writers, artists, mediapersons, activists and a large number of students of Delhi University and JNU participated in the protest.