Over 150 Kashmiri students studying at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Delhi, have opposed upcoming Kasheer’ 19 fest, saying it misrepresents the situation in Kashmir. Here is the verbatim statement from the Kashmiri student community in Jamia.
We the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, in strict terms express our dismay and disapproval of an event named “Kasheer’19” that is going to be held at our university on 2-3 April 2019.
This event, masquerading as an “art & culture fest” is being held in the name of “Kashmir” and is a stark misrepresentation of the situation of Kashmiri students studying in different parts of India and the overall situation in Kashmir. The event has political overtones while also being backed by vested statist interests. The event had sharply polarized and divided J&K students in the campus last year. In fact, after the conclusion of the last year’s fest, the invitees from Kashmir like Zareef Ahmad Zareef etc. also cautioned students against holding such fests in future, but their sincere advice was also downplayed.
This event deliberately sows the seeds of confusion among students and attempts to distort the discourse on Kashmir by blurring the identity lines while camouflaging the reality in Kashmir. Under the adverse political atmosphere around, and the worst state (of) oppression and curbs on people’s rights in and outside Kashmir, we take a strong objection to organizing the event in our name that shows a non-existing normal state of affairs.
The fact of the matter is J&K students studying in different universities and colleges across India are not living under normal circumstance. The post-Pulwama witch-hunt and mob lynching of Kashmiris from Haryana to Bengaluru, suspension of at least two dozen students from Indian universities and return of 3000 students to Kashmir has created an extraordinary fear. Female Kashmiri students were abused, and they had to lock themselves in their rooms as threats from fascist forces intensified. The United Nations and the supreme court of India have taken cognizance of the fearful circumstances faced by Kashmiris across India.
Facing an existential threat, at least three thousand students returned to the valley, leaving their education midway. The viral videos of Kashmiri businessmen and journalists facing extreme physical persecution have rendered all of us to a state of trauma. The killing of a school principal in police custody, other routine killings, demographic threats, have added to the miseries of Kashmiris. The situation at the border and the latest escalation between two nuclear powers has reduced our lives and land as mere objects of war. Such circumstances have led to a state of perpetual mourning in Kashmir and holding such fests just obfuscates the reality.
The ‘Kasheer-19 Fest’ done in our name, tramples upon our very identity by grossly appropriating the culture. We feel that such events are catalysts in altering the real dynamics of Kashmir discourse, with a definite purpose to question the integrity of our nation. The appropriation of Kashmir identity and culture has been used and hijacked in the recent history of Kashmir, which has only created more chaos.
We call upon the invited guests not to advance any unpleasant gestures and abstain from coming to such events which create fissures and flare up the animosity among students in the campus and leads to our misrepresentation.
In the interest of full disclosure, our silence on such events would have been considered as tacit approval, which would have been misleading and under no circumstances would have represented us.