Srinagar: Kashmir lawyers on Tuesday took to streets here in solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, while condemning a group of New Delhi lawyers who led the assault on students, faculty and journalists outside Patiala House Courts in India’s capital.
The members of Kashmir High Court Bar Association assembled in high court premises on Tuesday morning and marched towards the main entrance gate, seeking release of JNU students’ president Kanhaiya Kumar and SAR Geelani, a former Delhi University lecturer who was acquitted by Delhi high court in 2003 in a case for which Afzal Guru was hanged.
Both Kumar and Geelani, have been arrested on sedition and other charges for allegedly organizing an event in support of Afzal Guru, hanged in 2013 “to satisfy the collective conscience of India”.
Talking to reporters just outside the court premises, president of the lawyers’ body, advocate Mian Qayoom condemned the curbs by Indian government on free speech.
“We are a peace loving community and it is not that we believe in violence. We also want that in a peaceful atmosphere everybody should be allowed to speak freely. One should be given freedom of expression and if you don’t do it people in other places will protests,” Qayoom said.
“This protest is against the arrest and atrocities by Delhi police. Freedom of expression and freedom to assemble is a right of everybody and you can’t snatch them by using police and government machinery,” he said, condemning the Delhi police’s for registering FIR and arrest of people “without first establishing the guilt.”
He said the Supreme Court has directed not to arrest people without establishing the guilt, adding, mere sloganeering does not amount to sedition.
“The Supreme Court has laid down in the Kedarnath case in 1962 that offence of sedition could only be committed if there is an incitement of violence or public disorder,” Qayoom said and demanded immediate release of Kumar and Geelani.
He said as Kashmiris, “we want the right of self determination as the same is guaranteed by UN Security Council resolutions.”
In response to a direct question, he condemned the lawyers’ action of beating journalists outside the Patiala House Courts.
“Lawyers had exclusively no right to come up and beat the journalists and if they have done so we condemn it,” he added.