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As propaganda event ‘Let Kashmir Speak’ gets cancelled in Delhi, lets look at the organisers behind it

A dedicated page on 'Let Kashmir Speak' is on the websites of the embassies of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

On March 15, Delhi Police cancelled the permission for a propaganda event scheduled for 3 PM on Wednesday at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi. Titled “Let Kashmir Speak”, six speakers were mentioned on its poster, Former Justice of J&K High Court Justice Hussain Massoodi, Prof. Nandita Narain, Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, Mir Shahid Saleem, Sanjay Kak and Anil Chamadia.

Source: Aditya Raj Kaul/Twitter

The Delhi Police cited the anonymity of the organisers as the reason behind the event’s cancellation. Notably, Pakistani media has extensively talked about the event in the past few days, hinting towards a possible link between Pakistan and the organisers of the event.

Demanding the release of “all political prisoners” in Kashmir, it appeared the speakers would have talked about the so-called “media blackout and repression in Kashmir”. Several netizens, including journalist Aditya Raj Kaul and media houses, mainly Times Now, alerted the authorities through their reports. In his tweet, Kaul said, “Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi on March 15 to host an anti-India propaganda event which has been widely reported in Pakistan media. An investigation needs to be carried out about the funding of such an event and who is behind it. This is no civil society movement. Pak ISI?”

In the order, SHO Sanjeev Kumar, IP Estate Police Station, wrote to Kumar Prashant of Gandhi Peace Foundation that it received information/local input that some anonymous group was planning/organising a public meeting on “Media Blackout in Kashmir” at 3 PM on March 15, 2023, at Gandhi Peace Foundation.

“Efforts to get the details of members of the anonymous group have been made, but the same could not be verified. There is discreet input of disturbance in law & order situation in view of organizing this above public meeting. In view of the above, you are requested to cancel the booking & intimation may kindly be sent to undersigned at the earliest,” the order read. OpIndia tried reaching out to SHO Kumar but could not connect.

Source: Aditya Raj Kaul/Twitter

In a press release, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), which organised the event said, “The program was to address the question of continuing harassment and incarceration of Journalists in order to suppress the grim realities of state repression in Kashmir. This undemocratic action of cancelling the event on the frivolous pretext of “law and order situation” is also part of the same attempt at creating information blackout and narrative building.” The organisation added it was not anonymous and “renowned” personalities were speakers and progressive organisations were behind the event.

Statement by CASR. Source: Facebook

The speakers of the event

National Conference (NC) party leader and Former Justice of J&K High Court Justice Hasnain Masoodi

Hasnain Masoodi is an NC MP from the Anantnag constituency. He served as J&K High Court judge from 2009 to 2016. Hasnain’s name was mentioned as Hussain on the event poster. In 2021, after the Government of India repealed three agriculture laws, Masoodi demanded that the abrogation of Article 370 should be reversed as well.

Former DUTA president Prof. Nandita Narain

Professor Nandita Narain is the former president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association. She often propagated the “Free All Political Prisoners” campaign via her Twitter handle and echoed the same for Professor Sai Baba, who was arrested for his alleged Maoist links. From supporting anti-CAA protests to Teesta Setalvad and Mohammed Zubair of Alt News, Narain has sided with anti-India forces on several occasions. In a social media post, she said, “CANCELLED!!! The police tried the same thing with the Bharat Bachao programme at HKS Surjeet Bhavan on 11th and 12th March, but the organisers managed to get a court order allowing the programme to be held. This outrageous cancellation at the last minute only serves to reinforce the widely held belief about suppression of free speech, not only in Kashmir, but all over India, including in its capital Delhi.”

Source: Facebook

J&K CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami

Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami is a J&K CPI(M) leader and spokesperson at Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (JKPAGD), an alliance of the National Conference, People’s Democratic Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Awami National Conference. Tarigami was put under house arrest following the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

United Peace Alliance Chairman Mir Shahid Saleem

Mir Shahid Saleem is the Chairman of the United Peace Alliance. Saleem often raises his voice against the abrogation of Article 370 in the valley. While speaking at an event in February this year, he claimed the Central Government took several steps to intimidate and frighten the people of Kashmir. He further claimed that the Central government had oppressed the people in Kashmir since August 5, 2019.

Filmmaker Sanjay Kak

A left-leaning filmmaker, Sanjay Kak is often seen siding with Father Stan Swamy, Professor Sai Baba and others. In an op-ed on The Kashmir Files, he refused to accept that Kashmiri Hindus faced genocide leading to their exodus from the valley. He also claimed that blood-soaked rice was never fed to Ganjoo’s wife. Interestingly, he conveniently skipped the horrific story of Girija Tickoo, a Kashmiri Hindu woman cut in half with a chainsaw while alive.

In a statement to The Wire, he said, “People need to take note that this silencing does not – and will not – stop at discussions of Kashmir alone: it has already fallen on various expressions of democratic rights in India. And this silence is not simply a matter of choking self-expression. It is fast becoming the throttling of democracy itself.”

Journalist Anil Chamadia

Senior Journalist Anil Chamadia often sides with the left ideology. He has spoken in favour of the anti-CAA protests and was one of the signatories who wrote against UAPA imposed on Gautam Navlakha.

Organisations supporting the event

The organisations that were behind the event were part of an umbrella group called Campaign Against State Repression (CASR). There are 32 organisations under this group.

AIRSO: All India Revolutionary Students Organisation (AIRSO) is a left-leaning student organisation that often holds events with AISA and other left organisations. It is one of the organisations that criticised Jamia Millia Islamia university for cancelling admission of anti-CAA violence accused Safoora Zargar.

AISA: All India Students Association (AISA) is a CPIML(L). It is infamous for left-leaning politics in universities across India. AISA was one of the frontrunner student organisations in anti-CAA protests.

AISF: All India Students’ Federation (AISF) is another left-leaning student organisation. It was allegedly involved in JNU violence during anti-CAA protests.

APCR: Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) was founded in 2006 by KA Siddique Hassan, former vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, that recently organised a “get-together” for non-Muslim girls. The Police’s permission for the event was denied after Vishwa Hindu Parishad intervened. APCR has extensively worked against CAA-NCR and challenged CAA in the Supreme Court which can be checked here.

Bhim Army: It is an Ambedkarite organisation and a political party founded by Chandra Shekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ and others. Bhim Army‘s Azad allegedly created trouble during Delhi Riots, Hathras case and farmer protests.

Bigul Mazdoor Dasta: A left-wing group which often organises protests and campaigns for the “suppressed” voices. The group members were involved in anti-CAA protests and were questioned by the security agencies. The left media made a lot of noise when Bigul Mazdoor Dasta and other organisations’ members were questioned for their alleged involvement in the Delhi riots.

BSCEM: Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch is a student political organisation that follows left ideology. It protested against the ban on the propaganda documentary by BBC against PM Modi and has called for the “death of Brahmanism” in its social media posts and protests. The organisation also called for rebuilding the disputed structure in Ayodhya. It was also involved in anti-CAA protests.

DISSC: Dayar-I-Shauq Students’ Charter is a student political organisation that follows left ideology. The organisation supported Safoora Zargar when her admission at Jamia was cancelled. The organisation was involved in anti-CAA protests.

Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan: A left-leaning organisation that often organises protests on different issues. It has protested against Agnipath Scheme as well.

NAPM: National Alliance of Peoples Movements is a left-wing organisation. It participated in anti-CAA protests and demanded the release of those arrested for involvement in the violence, including Sharjeel Imam.

NTUI: New Trade Union Initiative is a left-wing organisation. It is one of the organisations that protested against the new labour laws.

People’s Watch: Founded in 1995, the organisation claims to be actively engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights. It was one of the organisations involved in anti-CAA protests.

Rihai Manch: It is a political front that claims to resist repression. It was involved in an array of protests including anti-CAA and farmer protests.

SFI: Students’ Federation in India is a left-wing student organisation. OpIndia has covered the organisation extensively. It can be checked here.

United Against Hate: It is a Muslim organisation that was accused in Delhi Riots case. United Against Hate was involved in farmer protests as well.

Other organisations in the group include BASF, BCM, CEM, CRPP, CTF, Disha, DSU, DTF, Fraternity, JAPL, Karnataka Janashakti, LAA, Mazdoor Patrika, Mehnatkash Mahila Sangathan, Morcha Patrika, Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, NBS, Nowruz, Samajwadi Janparishad, Smajwadi Lok Manch, Satyashodak Sangh, WSS, and Y45.

‘Let Kashmir Speak’ – The Pakistan connection

Coming to the ‘Let Kashmir Speak’ campaign, it is important to note that it goes back to August 2019 after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. ‘Let Kashmir Speak’ had some online presence before August 2019 but was limited to only a few social media posts.

On August 16, 2019, Amnesty International, the dubious organisation whose India office was shut after it was found that the organization illegally sent money to India without FCRA approval, released a video titled “Let Them Speak”. The 59-second-long video propagated against the security measures taken by the Government of India in view of possible law and order situations after the abrogation of Article 370.

It was soon converted into “Let Kashmir Speak” mainly with Pakistan’s involvement. Let Kashmir Speak became full-fledged Pakistani propaganda and it found space on the official websites of Pakistani embassies and media houses. For example, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party Tehreek-e-Insaf propagated the campaign.

A dedicated page for Let Kashmir Speak is on the website of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Athens, Greece.

Let Kashmir Speak campaign by Pakistan Embassy, Greece. Source: Pakistan Embassy, Greecce.

A similar section is on the Embassy of Pakistan in Japan.

Let Kashmir Speak campaign by Pakistan Embassy, Japan. Source: Pakistan Embassy, Tokyo.

It also found its way to Pakistan Embassy in Thailand.

Let Kashmir Speak campaign by Pakistan Embassy, Thailand. Source: Facebook.

Pakistan’s media has also covered the now-cancelled event. Pakistan Observer wrote, “Demand for release of all Kashmiri political prisoners and lifting of media restrictions and repression in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir will be raised by participants of a seminar scheduled to be held in India’s capital New Delhi on Wednesday.”

As the Lok Sabha elections are approaching, such campaigns and propaganda-filled events or protests are more likely to take place across India.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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