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PUDR on the disruption of the Kashmir program in Delhi

Let Delhi not go the Mumbai way: Oppose intolerance and hatred of disruptors

Statement from People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

22 October 2010

PUDR strongly condemns the intolerance and hatred that a section of the audience, described by the media as Panum Kashmir, showed during a seminar on Kashmir held in New Delhi on October 21.

Organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, the focus of the seminar was on the issue of azaadi in Kashmir. Various civil and democratic rights activists and thinkers from different parts of the country, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, addressed the audience.

The meeting was disrupted soon after the second speaker reiterated the UN Charter of Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right of self-determination to all citizens. The disruptors shouted Hindutva slogans and attempted to thwart the meeting. The effort was clearly to intimidate and prevent the organizers, speakers and the audience from participating in the seminar.

PUDR believes that since the democratic right to hold a dissenting opinion is a fundamental right which the Indian Constitution guarantees to all its citizens, the disruptors should have intervened, as was suggested by the organizers, in the course of the discussion and enriched the debate with their viewpoints. The strong-arm tactics of bullying and heckling, a method perfected by the Shiv Sena and recently demonstrated in the Mumbai University’s syllabus episode over Rohinton Mistry’s book, Such a Long Journey, is condemnable.

PUDR believes that the views of the disruptors are neither surprising nor original. The fact that they refuse to debate their viewpoints is a sign of the times. PUDR appeals to all democratic minded people to resist the politics of jingoism as was shown in the meeting.

Moushumi Basu and Asish Gupta

Secretaries, PUDR