Geelani heckled @ meet in Delhi
Hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s presence at a seminar in New Delhi provoked noisy protests, forcing the cops to physically remove dozens of agitating activists from the venue. The seminar titled ‘Azadi: the only way’, organized by Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), started amid tight security with scores of cops manning the venue. The trouble started after Assamese human rights activist Sujato Bhadra, who was one of the speakers at the event, demanded right to self-determination for J&K and deplored alleged human rights abuses in the state. His comments provoked the activists, who rushed towards the podium shouting slogans and almost came to blows with the volunteers, who made a human shield around the octogenarian separatist leader. The sloganeering continued for around 15 minutes before the cops removed the activists from the venue. They tore hoardings, pamphlets and photographs depicting four-month street protests and alleged rights violations in the Valley. Roots in Kashmir activist Aditya Raj Kaul, who was among the protesters, maintained that the hardline leader can’t be allowed to preach secession and that he had no locus standi to speak on behalf of Kashmiris. “What azadi and for whom?’’ he asked and demanded inclusion of Kashmiri Pandits in any negotiations on settling the issue. Another activist, Lalit Ambardar, echoed Kaul and said he empathizes with the families of over 110 people killed in the Valley since mid-June. “But Geelani has no right to speak on their behalf. He is responsible for getting them killed,’’ he said. Ambardar said he wanted to get up and salute mothers of those killed in the Valley, but added he wasn’t allowed to do so. `There can be no solution to the problem till Kashmiri Pandits return to their motherland.’’ The seminar continued with repeated interruptions as Geelani, Maoist ideologue Vara Vara Rao, author Arundhati Roy, pro-Khalistan and North-East activists spoke. Geelani in his address tried to reach out to Kashmiri Pandits, saying they were welcome to return. “It’s about human relations. I would welcome them and they can live there even if they differ with my ideology,’’ he said. He rejected the appointment of the Centre’s interlocuters on Kashmir and asked New Delhi to accept his five-point proposal.