The police on Wednesday stopped an academic lecture by writer Dr Mridu Rai from taking place at a hotel in Srinagar, citing Section 144, which bans assembly of more than four people.
A report in Hindustan Times says that Rai was to deliver a lecture on 'Languages of violence, languages of justice: the state and insurgent Kashmir' at 2 pm at the Grand Mumtaz Hotel. The talk was organised as a part of the Pandit Rughonath Vaishnavi Anual Talk by the well-known Kashmir human rights body Coalition of Civil Society (CCS).
However, the police came to the hotel on Tuesday evening and asked the managers to cancel the lecture. This is the first time an academic lecture has been banned by the police in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the report.
"We were threatened by sub district police officer (SDPO) Sheikh Faisal Qayoom (Kothi Bagh police station) to seal the hotel in case we went ahead with the programme,” said Pervez Imroz, convenor of the CCS, in the report. He added that Rughonath Vaishnavi, in whose name the programme was being organised, had fought for political rights in Kashmir along with the forefathers of chief minister Omar Abdullah. Imroz further condemned this ban.
Deputy commissioner Farooq Shah told Hindustan Times that NGOs and similar bodies needed permission from authorities to organise such functions.
Rai's book 'Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights and the History of Kashmir' created a huge debate and controversy in the country in 2004. "This is appalling that my voice was silenced along side with other speakers. It’s ludicrous. An academic lecture does not fall under Section 144. It was a simple conversation with people here,” said Rai in the report. "If people like us are not allowed...it is a tragedy. My lecture indeed was referring to the fact how the greater violence is to ensure that voices are not heard, which in fact happened today,” she added.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also condemned the ban, saying that the government could not ban intellectual activity under the garb of Section 144.
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Updated Date: Jul 10, 2014 12:41:14 IST