Delhi Police protects secessionists at anti-India 'convention'
It was a stunning display of defiance right under the nose of the Government of India and under the protection of Delhi Police – defiance of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which has been amended to bring under its purview not only those who indulge in secessionist and anti-national activities that amount to waging war on the state but also those who propagate secessionism and assist anti-national elements in waging war on the state. And this happened right under the nose of the Government of India, a short distance from North Block where the Ministry of Home Affairs is situated. The Indian state was pitilessly ridiculed and mocked at, those waging war on the state were openly asked to step up their campaign, and terrorism was glorified under the protection of Delhi Police.
On Thursday afternoon, a group of separatists, Maobadis and their sympathisers and publicists gathered at the Little Theatre Group auditorium on Copernicus Marg in the heart of Lutyens’s Delhi, ostensibly for a convention whose theme was ‘Azadi – The Only Way’. It was organised by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, a front organisation of the Maobadis.
The ‘convention’ was moderated by SAR Geelani, a key accused in the Parliament House attack case who escaped the gallows due to poor prosecution, prompting the judge to comment that it’s a pity he did not pay for his crime although it’s clear he committed it. SAR Geelani, ironically, teaches at Zakir Hussein College in Delhi; he lives in comfort at the expense of taxpayers.
The only voices of protest against the undiluted abuse and scorn that was poured on India were those of Kashmiri Pandits who repeatedly raised pro-India slogans and waved the Tricolour. After a while, SAR Geelani ‘directed’ (I use the word after due deliberation) the policemen on duty to throw out the pro-India members of the audience. The police obliged, dragging the Pandits and pushing them out of the hall.
The following are excerpts from what was said by two key participants:
Arundhati Roy: “Kashmir should get azadi from bhookhey-nangey Hindustan… India needs azadi from Kashmir and Kashmir from India. It is a good debate that has started. We must deepen this conversation and I am happy that young people are getting involved for this cause which is their future. The Indian Government is a hollow superpower and I disassociate from it… Earlier we used to talk about holding our high and now we prostrate ourselves before the US… Kashmiris have to decide whether they want to be with or get separated from bhookhey-nangey Hindustan where more than 830 million people live on only Rs 20 per day… In the early-1990s India opened two gates – one for the Babri Masjid and the other for the economy… We ushered in two kinds of totalitarianism: Hindu totalitarianism and the other economic totalitarianism... I am also aware of the stories about Kashmiri Pandits. I must tell you that Panun Kashmir is a false group…”
Syed Ali Shah Geelani: I urge Kashmiris to boycott interlocutors and reject the eight-point agenda of India for defusing the crisis in the Valley. The people of Kashmir are not against dialogue, but the talks should be on the core issue of azadi and Pakistan should also be involved in the discussions… The dialogue should not be bilateral. India, Pakistan and representatives of people of Jammu & Kashmir should sit together… They must take into account sacrifices made by Kashmiris during the last 63 years. Indian Government has to accept our five-point agenda, only then will we initiate talks with interlocutors. Otherwise, I ask Kashmiris to boycott them… We demand Indian security forces should be withdrawn from Jammu & Kashmir under UN supervision; political prisoners should be released; cases should be registered against the killers of 111 innocent people killed during the last four months… We want the right to self-determination… Today it is said that interlocutors will come and meet a host of people in the State for one year to understand what people want. This is a fraud. It is an attempt to delay everything hoping that poeple will forget… Kashmir is not an internal dispute but an international issue…
SAR Geelani added a clarification: “Kashmir does not only mean the Kashmir Valley but the entire Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Muzzafarabad, Baltistan and Mirpur...”
It could be argued that the principle of free speech, which is one of the pillars of democracy, allows individuals to spew venom at the state. But when free speech transmogrifies into open call for secession, should the state remain an idle spectator?
A last point. If Chhatradhar Mahato of PCPA can be held under UAPA for providing assistance to Maobadis and propagating their cause, then why should the same law not be applicable when it comes to Arundhati Roy? Because she speaks and writes in English, is a Booker winner and is feted by foreign organisations?
I have discussed this point in detail in an earlier blog entry: If there's no democracy in India, why can't she move to Swat Valley?