Delhi police denies permission for event on ‘media blackout’ in Kashmir
The event’s organisers said that the police locked one of the gates of the foundation and barricaded another gate to prevent people from entering.
Permission was denied by Delhi police for an event on “media blackout and state repression in Kashmir” scheduled to be held at the Gandhi Peace Foundation on Wednesday, March 15. This comes close on the heels of the Delhi High Court striking down the Delhi police order cancelling another seminar on “Understanding Fascism in India”.
The event’s speakers included former judge and National Conference Party MP Hasnain Masoodi, former CPI(M) MLA M Yousuf Tarigami, Delhi University professor Nandita Narain, documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak, United Peace Alliance chairman Shahid Saleem and senior journalist Anil Chamadia. The public meeting was organised by an activist umbrella group called the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR).
The Indraprastha Estate police station sent an order signed by inspector and station house officer Sanjeev Kumar that it had received “information/local input” that “some anonymous group is planning/organising public meeting on ‘Media Blackout in Kashmir’ at 3 pm on March 15, 2023 at Gandhi Peace Foundation. Efforts to get the details of members of the anonymous group have been made but the same could not be verified.”
“There is discreet input of disturbance in law and order situation in view of organising this above public meeting. In view of the above, you are requested to cancel the booking and intimation may kindly be sent to the undersigned at the earliest,” stated the order.
The letter with the subject, “Regarding issuance of cancellation of booking reg. the Program/ public meeting to be organised by Y4SDU Coordinator…” is dated March 14.
Y4SDU is the abbreviation of the Delhi University unit of Youth for Swaraj — the youth wing of political activist Yogendra Yadav’s party. Y4S is one of the many student groups in the CASR.
The poster announcing the seminar had a long list of well-known organisations such as the Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Association (AISA), the Delhi Teachers’ Forum (DTF) and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). All of them have offices in Delhi.
“It is quite unfortunate that now it has become a routine when a section of people raise their voice or protest against certain policies of the government, the police comes to stop these events and prevents even activities, which are peaceful,” said Tarigami. The country has a Constitution, which provides people with certain rights, pointed out the J&K CPI(M) leader, and not allowing such protests, expression or concerns of the population goes against the rule of law.
“So, I strongly believe, even if you may agree or disagree on issues, people should be to express their views even if they not in tune with the policies of the government. We were going to speak about certain rights of people in one of the important regions of the country. It is not unlawful and it should have been allowed,” added Tarigami.
The event’s organisers said that the police locked one of the gates of the foundation and barricaded another gate to prevent people from entering. The staff at GPF said earlier permission was never required to organise events, but now the police has started asking organisers to take permission.
“It's a telling comment that a seminar on Media Blackout in Kashmir was cancelled earlier today on the grounds that it might disturb the "law and order situation", said Kak. It is out of such authoritarian steps that the abhorrent silence around the situation in Kashmir has been constructed. “It's important for people to take note that this silencing does not – and will not – stop at discussions of Kashmir alone: it has already fallen on various expressions of democratic rights in India. And this silence is not simply a matter of choking self-expression. It is fast becoming the throttling of democracy itself,” he underscored.
Earlier this week, a Delhi police order refusing permission for a seminar on the theme “Understanding Fascism in Present India Context” was struck down by the Delhi High Court. Cancelling the order, Justice Tushar Rao Gadela urged the organisers and the police to ensure that the seminar is held in a peaceful atmosphere.
The two-day national seminar organised by “Bharat Bachao”, a collective of scholars, social activists, advocates and politicians, was then held in the Harkishan Singh Surjeet Bhawan on March 11 and 12.
The petitioners, Gade Inna Reddy and Dr Mondry Francis Gopinath, who represented the collective, had challenged the Delhi police’s March 9 order. In their plea, they argued that the details of the event were shared with the police more than a month ago, on January 24, but the police kept them hanging and finally denied permission two days before the event.
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