SRINAGAR: Scores of students, both Kashmiri and Indian, on Wednesday afternoon staged a three-hour long protest demonstration in New Delhi to commemorate the death anniversaries of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru.
Bhat was hanged on charges of murder in 1984 while Guru was hanged for being a conspirator in the Indian parliament attack case in 2013 – both in Tihar jail. The charges against both were denied by pro-freedom groups in Kashmir and many Indian civil society groups termed Guru’s hanging as travesty of justice. The Indian government is also yet to return the mortal remains of the duo, despite repeated attempts by both pro-freedom and pro-India groups.
The protestors, who were from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Millia, read letters of Bhat and Guru which they had written inside the Jail. Senior pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani also made a telephonic speech, in which he glorified the duo and ‘lamented the Indian state for its forceful occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.’ “The aim of protest was to give a message to India that our voice of freedom is more powerful than the state and to reiterate that the hanging of Afzal Guru was travesty of justice,” a protestor said.
On Tuesday, a protest against the hanging of the duo was also held at JNU. The protestors put on a cultural programme, and an art and photo exhibition. However, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an organisation affiliated with the BJP, held a counter-protest outside the Vice Chancellor’s office demanding expulsion of students who were part of the programme in support of Bhat and Guru. There were also reports that ABVP members heckled and attacked the protestors.
In the past few years, Delhi has seen some anti-India protests. This started after Afzal’s hanging, when a protest was held at Jantar Mantar and, according to some, Azadi slogans were raised in public in Delhi for the first time.