Kashmiri-American teacher heckled at Vivek Agnihotri's Rutgers University talk says 'crowd was infuriated' by his questions

The Kashmiri-American teacher who was heckled at Vivek Agnihotri's event says he was allegedly punched in the back while exiting the venue.

FP Staff November 27, 2019 22:19:39 IST
Kashmiri-American teacher heckled at Vivek Agnihotri's Rutgers University talk says 'crowd was infuriated' by his questions
  • Vivek Agnihotri recently delivered a talk on his upcoming film, The Kashmir Files, at an event organised by the Rutgers Hindu Students Council at the Umiya Mata Temple.

  • A Kashmiri-American teacher was heckled after asking questions about the right to self-determination of the state

  • In a detailed account published on Medium, he says he was verbally abused and punched in the back while exiting the venue.

On 21 November 2019, Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri delivered a talk on his upcoming film, The Kashmir Files, at an event organised by the Rutgers Hindu Students Council, Rutgers University, at the Umiya Mata Temple. The film has been described by him as "the unreported story of the most tragic and gut-wrenching genocide of Kashmiri Hindus".

Hours after the event, Agnihotri shared a clip from the event on his Twitter account with the caption: "Some Kashmiri Muslim students tried to spread Pakistani propaganda at the event. Once again, when I asked where were they from... he ran away."

In the videos shared, a Kashmiri-American teacher could be heard sharing his views on Kashmir's right to self-determination, enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter of 26 June, 1945, which he thought was being "swept under the rug".

Shortly after his declaration, the crowd in attendance began to jeer at him. Agnihotri proceeded to ask him whether he had a problem with Jammu and Kashmir becoming a part of India after the abrogation of Article 370. When the student began to explain why he wasn't in favour of the Indian government's decision, the microphone was taken away from him. The crowd continued to silence him despite the organisers' intervention, as seen in the video.

The teacher has now written a detailed account of his exchange with Agnihotri in a Medium post titled Here’s what happened when a Kashmiri Muslim asked Hindu nationalists tough questions. He says his questions were "dismissed without any real answer" even after the floor was opened for questions. "He called me to the front and asked me where I was from. I softly responded by saying I am from Kashmir. He asked where was Kashmir located. I softly responded by saying, 'Kashmir is in Kashmir'. The crowd was infuriated and Vivek was caught off guard. The strong Kashmiri identity rhetoric was puzzling for him and his crowd. Their reaction was daunting," writes the teacher. He also states that he was verbally abused and punched in the back while exiting the venue even after being escorted by the organisers.

According to the registration website of the event, Agnihotri was to discuss his project in the context of the political developments that have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. The venue was changed from the university campus to Umiya Mata Temple to accommodate more people, as per another tweet by Agnihotri. Before the change in location, many Twitter users criticised the invitation extended to Agnihotri.

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