After Ahmedabad city police refused permission last month to a group of scholars, social activists, students and others to voice their dissent against the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the group has circulated a letter online, voicing their dissent against the government’s move in J&K and seeking the signatures of others who too opposed it.
The letter says, “Despite enormous popular support for the current state policies there is also criticism and disagreement. We feel this statement will marginally help in the public narrative by making the point that not everyone in Gujarat agrees with what is happening in Kashmir.”
The group had planned to organise a peaceful dharna (demonstration) on September 15 at Sardar Baug near Lal Darwaja. Ahmedabad-based Dev Desai working with the NGO ANHAD said they had applied for permission around September 11 or 12 “for a peaceful demonstration at a single spot for September 15 between 3 pm and 5 pm….carrying banners and placards.” Nearly 150 people had confirmed that they’ll participate, he said.
Rejecting permission for the protest, a September 14 letter, signed by police inspector of Karanj police station, addressed to Ahmedabad-based social worker Noorjahan Diwan, says, “The police commissioner of zone 2 Ahmedabad city (DCP Dharmendra Sharma) after consultation, wishes to inform you, the situation in Kashmir is improving gradually and there are no reports of human rights violation…there remains a possibility that such a programme in Ahmedabad may lead to a dark (adverse) reaction in the city…and providing permission for the same may deteriorate the law and order situation. Keeping this in mind…the permission cannot be granted.”
The activists then circulated the online appeal to the public to stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir. “While thousands protest outside the United Nations in New York, here in Ahmedabad, the police refuses permission to protest. Gujarat is where the very spirit of dissent has been crushed under the weight of a state actively and tacitly supported by the majority,” it says.
The letter also “urges the Indian government to lift the communication and media blockade, restore fundamental human rights to freedom of movement, assembly and information…,release of all political prisoners who have been detained without trial since August 5., demilitarise Kashmir, and initiate meaningful conversation with the Kashmiri people on the future of the state.”