The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in its order on banning of last years event on Kunan Poshpora by the police has observed that, “there is no law which obliges a person to seek prior permission to hold a meeting in a private place within the four corners of a hall or a hotel for a lawful purpose”.
According to Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), the order by SHRC proves that the Jammu and Kashmir Police unreasonably, arbitrarily and whimsically prevents peaceful assemblies and events highlighting human rights abuses from taking place.
“The J&K government has been selectively either banning or declining permission for organizing peaceful events and meetings around issues that are inconvenient for them and which the State prefers to discourage people from discussing. The Indian state has always sought to curtail the freedom of Kashmiri people to assemble and express themselves,” a statement from the JKCCS said.
In order to ‘commemorate the struggles of the people of Kunan Poshpora’, last year the Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora organized a press conference on February 23 where the survivors of rape and torture were to speak. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar had denied permission to hold the conference stating that, “there is an apprehension of law and order problem when the issue of Kunan Poshpora is raised,” thus preventing the survivors from addressing the media and speaking about their struggle.
Before that, the government had also disallowed a lecture on Kashmir by noted historian Dr Mridu Rai in 2015.
The Support Group for Justice for Kunan Poshpora has been commemorating the struggle of the survivors of Kunan Poshpora mass rape as the Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day on the February 23, since 2014, through peaceful events in Srinagar.
This matter was taken by the Support Group in the J&K State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). In a response to the SHRC queries, Inspector General of Police stated that “it was reliably learnt that some unknown miscreants had made a plan to indulge in stone pelting and create law and order problem in Lal Chowk area. They were roaming with the intention to carry out a militant strike in the area, in view of the said input/perceived threat of militant act, the said party was not allowed.”
JKCCS said, “the police’s response is in line with its policy of choking every space for dissent available to people of Jammu and Kashmir and prevent debate and discussion regarding widespread human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir.”
“The bans and restrictions placed on freedom of expression and assembly, however, will not deter our resolve to speak on the issue of rights abuses and we pledge to continue this fight,” the statement added.