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Police to probe incident at Kashmir panel discussion: Minister

Press Trust of India  |  Bengaluru 

With a panel discussion here over the Kashmir issue witnessing heated exchanges and alleged raising of pro-Kashmir 'Independence' slogans, Home Minister today said the intention and background of those involved will be investigated.

"It is not clear whether they were students, I have got information that some people were involved in sloganeering. I have asked (police) to conduct inquiry and find out about their background," Home Minister told reporters here.

Stating that the Police Commissioner has been asked to look into the intentions of those involved and about their involvement in anti-national activity of any kind, he said "if there is larger perspective, national investigating agencies will be informed and they will also look into (the matter)."

"Some information is that they may be refugees residing here, but what was their intention, who provoked them, why did they do it, need to be inquired into," he said.

A panel discussion yesterday had turned chaotic as some "pro-freedom" Kashmiris, most of them youngsters and students, entered into heated arguments with a Kashmiri Pandit leader for hailing the Indian Army. The event was organised by Amnesty International India at United Theological College here.

DCP North Bengaluru T R Suresh said "We have received a complaint (from ABVP), we have also been given a CD, we will look into it and take action in accordance with law."

Responding to a question, he said police permission for the event was not necessary as it was an indoor activity.

Stating that CCTV footage will also be examined, he said "law will take its own course."

Stating that it had organized the event as part of a campaign to seek justice for "victims of human rights violations" in Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty International India in a statement said towards the end of the event, some of those who attended raised slogans, some of which referred to calls for 'Azaadi' (freedom).

Noting that as a matter of policy it does not take any position in favour of or against demands for self-determination, Amnesty said it, however, considers that the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law protects the right to peacefully advocate political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

"It is important that media attention to conduct of some

of those who attended the event not serve as a distraction from the important issues of the denial of truth and justice to those who have suffered in Jammu and Kashmir," the statement, quoting Programme Director Tara Rao, said.

Chaos took place during the panel discussion soon after R K Mattoo, Kashmiri Pandit leader and former journalist, said, "Army is present everywhere in the North-East, Kashmir and other sundry places. I can tell you proudly that the Indian army is one of the disciplined armies in the world."

The "pro-freedom" Kashmiris objected to Mattoo's remarks, leading to heated exchanges, which eventually resulted in panelists appealing to the contending parties in the hall to maintain silence. Police posted at the event managed to pacify the groups.

After the situation was brought under control, Mattoo urged the Amnesty International to highlight the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits, whose problems, he claimed, have never been highlighted or taken up by any international agencies.

Mattoo said it is not the story of the sufferings of the Muslim "brothers" alone in Kashmir but also KashmiriPandits who have been victims of terrorism.

"We are sufferers and you (Muslim brothers) are the sufferers. Please don't allow people from across the border Pakistan to take advantage of us," he said during the panel discussion.

"We have been suffering as refugees for the last 27 years," Mattoo said.

"Like the Muslim brothers even the Kashmiri Pandits have suffered and have been hounded out of Kashmir in January 1990," Mattoo said.

He claimed that 800-odd Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, were killed brutally by terrorists, but not a single FIR was registered against anybody.

Mattoo alleged that the perpetrators of the atrocities including JKLF chief Yasin Malik were roaming free.

"So, this is not the story about Muslim brothers, but also Kashmiri Pandits who suffered in one stroke and lost 800-odd peoplebut we lefteverything there and fled," he said.

"Today we are settled all over the world. Only thing is we have lost our homeland which we are going to go back. We are not going to leave it like that," he said.

Soon after the panel discussion, the "pro-freedom" Kashmirs raised slogans and left the venue.

First Published: Sun, August 14 2016. 19:02 IST