SRINAGAR: NC leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was heckled on Thursday when he was coming out from the University of California in Berkley after delivering a speech, media reports said. Those protesting against his speech were mostly Kashmiri Americans.
Omar Abdullah termed it a tamasha. “I had a great session at @UCBerkeley & don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. FOUR hecklers (in an audience of 150+) who waited till the event concluded to make YouTube videos of themselves can’t take away from an excellent Q&A session there,” Omar wrote on Twitter. “I’m looking forward to the organisers putting the video of the entire session online so that the people who’ve seen the short tamasha can see how much substantial stuff happened before that.”
Omar further said: “And lastly I’ve never claimed to be universally loved or even liked so if 4 people in such a large audience make their dislike known it’s really not such a big deal at all. At least no one threw eggs or a shaving foam pie at me.”
The protesters had accused Omar of being a “war criminal” along with his father an gran father. There is a brief video clip being shared on the social websites offering a brief view of the noisy scenes outside the main gate of a building, possibly the venue where Omar later delivered the speech.
The protesters threatened him that they will “drag him to the international criminal court”. They also told him to stop trading Kashmiri lives, stop dirty politics and stop being an “Indian agent”.
Though not much was audible from the open air pandemonium, Omar did question one of the protesting man. When Omar asked him about his antecedents, the man responded: “I am from Gojwara area of Srinagar and now I am living here from 25 years.”
Omar asked him: Why are you here for 25 years? Why are not you coming back?
The unidentified responded: “You guys threw us out.”
The protesting group accused Omar that he has “still blood of innocent Kashmiris on his hands”.
Omar Abdullah had been invited by the University of California for a conversation on The Path Forward In Kashmir. The venue was the Great Hall in the Faculty Club.
“Charismatic, articulate, and an ardent fan of technology, Omar Abdullah is an Indian politician and the scion of one of the most prominent political families of Jammu and Kashmir, the Abdullah family,” the University announced on its website. “He served as the youngest Chief Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir from 2009-2014. He is currently the Leader of opposition in J&K legislative assembly.”
It further said: “As a former Chief Minister and one of the most prominent politicians of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah will talk about his vision for the path forward in the region and share his perspective on possible solutions.”
One of them asked Omar: “You Talk to me in Kashmiri, I speak better Kashmiri.” To which Omar Abdullah replied, “You all ran away.”
“Did a performance piece outside the Faculty Club, where the mass murderer was invited to talk,” Huma dar, one of the protesting scholars wrote on her FB wall. “Tried to conduct a civilian’s arrest of the war criminal,”
A day ahead of the event, Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and expressed his happiness and excitement about the session.
Slightly ahead of it, an online petition had appeared in the virtual world that called for a campaign against the US varsity for inviting Omar. They demanded that the University must call off the event because Omar was not the real representative of Kashmiri people.
“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,” the petition that was circulating on Facebook read. “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.”
A number of academics and scholars had signed the document before Omar landed in the US. The petition appeared on various petition platforms as well. It termed Omar a “client politician” insisting that more than a hundred civilians were killed in 2010 when he was the chief minister. It held him responsible for introducing shot-guns that use pellets. Kashmir has hundreds of people who have lost their eyes to the pellet guns. The document also accused him of shielding the rape and murder of Asiya and Nelofar in 2009 in Shopian.