The Delhi Police on Wednesday denied permission for an event to discuss the crackdown on the media in Kashmir.
The event, titled “Media blackout and state repression in Kashmir”, was scheduled to be held at the Gandhi Peace Foundation at 2 pm on Wednesday.
Hasnain Masoodi, a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami, filmmaker Sanjay Kak, Mir Shahid Saleem of the United Peace Alliance and Delhi University professor Nandita Narain were listed as the speakers.
In a statement, the police claimed that the event had been planned an anonymous group and that information about its members could not be verified. “There is discrete input of disturbance in the law and order situation in view of organising this above public meeting,” they added.
Deepak Kumar, a civil liberties activist who was part of the organising team of the event, told Scroll that the police had locked one of the gates of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and barricaded another.
“This is continuation of the government and police’s efforts to stall protests and events that try to highlight human rights violations,” he added.
Saleem also said that heavy police force had been deployed at the venue and officials were not allowing speakers to enter.
Narain told PTI that the event was organised by several student and teacher groups.
“The speakers were informed about the cancellation, just when they were about to leave for the event,” she said. “It was not a protest but a public meeting. It was being carried out in a hall and the police had nothing to do with it.”
She said the “outrageous cancellation at the last minute” only reinforces facts about the suppression of free speech, not only in Kashmir but all over India. “This is what is happening...They [police] are entering colleges to stop events,” she said.
Last week, the Delhi High Court had quashed a police order denying permission for a seminar on the topic “Understanding fascism in present India context”.
A single bench of Justice Tushar Rao Gadela had said that the organisers of the seminar and the police should cooperate and ensure that the event is held peacefully.