Mirwaiz roughed up at Chandigarh seminar (Second Lead)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

CHANDIGARH - Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was roughed up by displaced Kashmiri Pandits and Hindu right-wing activists at a seminar here Thursday for his alleged anti-India comments.

The Chandigarh police arrested 21 accused, including seven women, and booked them for rioting. Those arrested included over a dozen Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists. They were later released.

Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz, who was inside the conference hall of the Kisan Bhawan in Sector 35 here, was manhandled by displaced Kashmiri Pandits and Hindu right-wing activists. Bilal Lone, another Hurriyat leader, was also attacked by the agitated protestors.

During the seminar, at least a couple of protestors jumped on the conference table and attacked the Mirwaiz. He was sharing the dais with leaders of other political parties, including the general secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal, Prem Singh Chandumajra.

The organisers immediately jumped in to save Mirwaiz. There was total chaos inside the hall for close to 30 minutes as the protestors shouted slogans against the Mirwaiz, the Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan.

The protestors also pelted stones, and hurled flower pots. Many mediapersons and other people, who had come to attend the seminar, also sustained injuries in the melee.

Chandigarh police rushed in more constables to control the situation at the venue and the attackers were dragged outside the seminar room.

“We will not allow any anti-India activity here. We will protest against it,” one of the activists said as he was being taken away by the police.

Zameel Qazim, general secretary of the International Democratic Party (IDP), which organised the seminar to discuss the Kashmir issue, told IANS: “Mirwaiz just started speaking when the attack took place. They attacked him without provocation.”

Another IDP leader, S.S. Sanyal said: “Those who led the attack were not Kashmiris.” However, Mirwaiz said that he was not hurt with this incident.

“I am not hurt. I am totally fine. We were sitting here to discuss things. If they had something to share, then they could raise the issue and it can be debated. For every problem there is a solution and it was the main aim of this round table conference,” Farooq said.

“I cannot comment on anything about the security arrangements as it is the duty of the organisers. But here in Chandigarh, I am quite satisfied with the security part. See, you cannot stop anybody if he is coming with some wrong intentions,” he added.

BJP activists, led by Chandigarh unit president Sanjay Tandon and former member of parliament Satya Pal Jain, staged a protest sit-in outside the police station here in Sector 36, and demanded the release of their party workers.

However, sensing trouble, over 200 police personnel were mobilised at the police station to control the situation. Police also resorted to cane-charging and used force to disperse the BJP activists, who had gheraoed the police station here in Sector 36.

“We are examining the recorded video tapes,” said Naunihal Singh, senior superintendent of police, Chandigarh.

BJP activists blamed the Chandigarh police of favouring the accused.

“Chandigarh police is acting in very irresponsible manner. Instead of arresting those people, who made anti-India comments, they have illegally detained our workers,” said Tandon.

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