Chanting slogans against Pakistan, and separatist leaders, Kashmiri Pandits living in Delhi NCR held a protest rally at Jantar Mantar on Saturday to mark World Refugee Day.
Displaying posters with slogans like “we are refugees in our own country” and ” protest against genocide”, the protesters, under several organisations of Kashmiri Pandits in the NCR and the ‘Panun Kashmir’ organisation, said that they had been “betrayed by the Government” which had not done anything to ensure their return to their homeland.
Brandishing lit torches and Indian flags, the protesters marched down Jantar Mantar road towards parliament street before being stopped and turned back by police personnel. A giant “mashaal” with the Pakistani flag on it was also burnt by the protesters amidst slogans denouncing Pakistan, Hurriyat leader Syed Ali shah geelani and JKLF chief Yasin Malik.
Starting the evening with Kashmiri songs and speeches to remember the “murdered” victims of the 1990s, speakers at the protest said that calling the Kashmiri Pandits “migrants” was an “insult.”
“We are not migrants. We were forced out of our homes”, said Agnishekhar, convenor of the Panun Kashmir organisation. Raising the demand for “Panun Kashmir”, a protected territory for Kashmiri Hindus within J&K, speakers at the event demanded that the Pandits should be given the legal status of “Internally displaced persons”. “we are living as refugees in our own country” said Agnishekhar.
In his speech at the rally, All India anti- terrorist front chairman and former Punjab Minister MS Bitta sought to raise the tempo of the protest. ” the government should respond to bullets with bullets. If we could smash the khalistan movement why not the Terrorists in Kashmir?” Said Bitta, who also exhorted Kashmiri Pandits to continue the struggle for “homeland”, including armed struggle if needed.