Srinagar, Feb 21: Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has accused the J&K government of selectively banning or declining permission for organizing peaceful events and meetings around issues that are “inconvenient” for it and which the state prefers to discourage people from discussing.
The forum also blamed the Government of India for always seeking to curtail the freedom of Kashmiri people to assemble and express themselves.
JKCCS in a statement while quoting the order of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on banning of last year’s event on Kunan Poshpora by the police has observed that “there is no law which obliges a person to seek prior permission to hold a meeting in a private place within the four corners of a hall or a hotel for a lawful purpose”.
It said the order by SHRC proves that the JK Police “unreasonably, arbitrarily and whimsically” prevents peaceful assemblies and events highlighting the human rights abuses from taking place.
“In order to commemorate the struggles of the people of Kunan Poshpora, last year the Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora organized a press conference on the 23rd of February where the survivors of rape and torture were to speak. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar denied permission to hold the conference in a letter dated 22nd of February stating that ‘there is an apprehension of law and order problem when the issue of Kunan Poshpora is raised’, thus preventing the survivors from addressing the media and speaking about their struggle,” the group said in a statement.
“The state administration disallowed a lecture on Kashmir by noted historian Dr Mridu Rai in 2015, stating no valid reason pointing to the fact that the government works on its whims,” it said, adding, “The Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora has been commemorating the struggle of the survivors of Kunan Poshpora mass rape as the Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day on the 23rd of February since 2014 through peaceful events in Srinagar.”
JKCCS said the matter was taken by the Support Group in the J&K State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). “In a shocking response to the SHRC queries, Inspector General of Police stated that ‘it was reliably learnt that some unknown miscreants had made a plan to indulge in stone pelting and create law and order problem in Lal Chowk area. They were roaming with the intention to carry out a militant strike in the area, in view of the said input/perceived threat of militant act, the said party was not allowed’.”
“The police response is in line with its policy of choking every space for dissent available to people of Jammu and Kashmir and to prevent the debate and discussion regarding widespread human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir,” JKCCS said, adding, “The bans and restrictions placed on freedom of expression and assembly, however, will not deter our resolve to speak on the issue of rights abuses and we pledge to continue this fight.” (GNS)