SRINAGAR: Academics, research scholars, and journalists across the world on Wednesday launched an online campaign against USA’s University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) for inviting former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah to speak in their campus on Thursday. They demanded that the varsity call off the event.
Netizens started an online campaign on Google Docs which termed Omar as not the “real” representative of Kashmir. More than 70 netizens, by the time this report was sent to press, had signed the document. The signatories included Dr Dibyesh Anand, Professor at University of Westminster, UK, researchers from Jamia Millia University, Aligarh Muslim University, Dublin City University, and universities in Turkey.
“Berkeley is wilfully providing a platform to Mr Omar Abdullah and allowing him to masquerade as the representative of the people of the occupied Kashmir, which he is clearly not,” reads the document that went public on Facebook. “We expect Berkeley to do their due diligence in the future and consider the repercussions of allowing client politicians such as Omar Abdullah the privilege of speaking on behalf of the people whom he does not represent.”
An online petition, ‘Stop Omar Abdullah from speaking at UC Berkeley’, was also started on change.org against the university’s decision of inviting Omar. It demanded a signature of 200 petitioners, and 125 had signed within hours.
“Mr Omar Abdullah, a dynastic politician (a term the Director of IIS would agree with), is one of the many client politicians that the Indian state has cultivated in Kashmir, who provide a civilian façade to what is for all intents and purposes a military occupation,” reads the draft of the petition.
“We find it highly relevant to mention that during his tenure as the ‘Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir’, hundreds of Kashmiri civilians lost their lives to police and paramilitary firing. In 2010 civilian uprising against the Indian occupation of Kashmir, which he repressed through use of overwhelming police and paramilitary violence, over 100 young boys were killed, thousands of youth were arrested and tortured in jails, many minors were sodomised,” it said.
According to the petition, Omar introduced pellet-shotguns in Kashmir as a “non-lethal” weapon for “crowd control” which have caused mass killings since. His tenure, it said, is remembered by the people of ‘Occupied Kashmir’ for frequent protests, curfews, arbitrary detentions and torture.
“It was his regime that gave a clean chit to the culprits responsible for the 2009 rape and murder of 17-year-old Asiya and 22-year-old Neelofar. It was his regime which gave monetary rewards to police and paramilitary who brutally quelled the 2010 protests,” it said.