Students of the Delhi University held a protest against the lockdown in Kashmir at the Arts Faculty of North Campus. It is over 70 days since the Indian government removed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and put the valley on lockdown.
The protest was organised by the All India Students’ Association, the Students Federation of India, and the activists’ collective Pinjra Tod, among several other student groups. Posters portraying the plight of Kashmiri students were put up.
“Not only students, everyone should join the protest against this clampdown,” said a second-year Delhi University student who was part of the protest. “This is not only a protest for Kashmir, this is a protest for freedom of expression in the country. Today they are doing this in Kashmir. Tomorrow, they might do this with any other state.”
Another student at the protest said, “It is so many days since the voice of Kashmiris was muted, yet the mainstream media is not showing the reality. The media is siding with the government and creating a false perception of normalcy. Markets are closed and the people are facing many problems. This protest is for us to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir”.
In a bid to disrupt the protest, a group of students started shouting “Bharat Mata ke Jai” and “Vande Matram”. Asked about it, one of these students told Newslaundry: “We are just expressing love for the country. The people protesting here are against uniting our country.”
Soon, both sides started shouting slogans against each other until the police arrived and asked the counter-protesters to leave.
Addressing the demonstration, a Kashmiri student said, “People are dying due to the lack of healthcare and the government is still not listening to the people in Kashmir.”
Nandini Rao, a member of the Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, too addressed the gathering. She said, “Students are afraid to go to school and college, especially women. They are afraid that they will not be able to come back home. This lockdown is creating fear in people’s mind and it needs to be lifted immediately. The government should start engaging with Kashmiris.”
Slogans like “Kashmir tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (We are with you in your struggle, Kashmir)” and “Article 370 vapis lao (Bring back Article 370)” were heard at the protest. Posters and slogans against the statements of prominent political leaders about marrying Kashmiri women were also seen and heard.