Cops prevent civil society group from visiting Rajouri

Srinagar: Kashmir Civil Society for Developmental Studies (KCSDS) on Saturday said police stopped them from visiting Chenab Valley a day ago.
In a statement, KCSDS said the police are “brazenly being used for pursuing the politics of a particular political party”, apparently referring to BJP.
“Whereas the shrinking of political space and high handedness against political activists and resistance leaders is the norm here, but today civil society has been stopped for the first time in its history from a free movement in its own territory for no reason except to thwart the peaceful activities for greater good of the society,” it said.
On Friday, KCSDS members proceeded to pay obeisance at the revered shrine of Shahdra Sharief in Rajouri and had also planned a civil society interaction with the prominent civil society members there as part of its ongoing civil society interactions in various districts, it said.
“But after travelling a distance of over 100 kms, up to Peer ki-Gali, KCSDS team led by Prof Hameedah Nayeem, Dr Javaid Iqbal, AM Zargar, Zahid Ghulam Mohammad, Qurat ul Ain and others were stopped by a heavy contingent of JK police which included male and female constables. An executive magistrate was also with them to order arrest in case of stiff resistance from us,” it added.
“Road blocks and barricades were put up across the road in a way as if some ‘most wanted’ persons had to be prevented from escaping. When we asked the reason of being stopped, the in-charge police officer told us that he could not let us proceed on the orders from his high ups including IGP Jammu. He also informed us about some ongoing protests in Rajouri town, which could be hurtful to us. But when we informed about our schedule to have a night stay at Dargah followed by our visit to Thanamandi locality only on Saturday for civil society interaction, he still did not allow us to proceed,” the statement said.
“It seems BJP dominated government would ask us to obtain visas to visit Pir panchal and Chenab valleys.”
According to the members, the coalition has “dangerous designs” of shrinking the civil society space for interaction, advocacy and research on socio-economic issues on which it has been generating public discourses.
“Claims of democratic space and civil liberties and battle of ideas have now become butts of ridicule in the BJP dominated regime. We want to impress upon the government that such high-handedness would never be accepted and stiff resistance will be put up against this sinister design. The right to movement and that too in our own state is a fundamental inalienable right and could never be allowed to be snatched away from us at any cost. We condemn this tactic in strongest terms,” it added.