January 06, 2017

India: Seminar on Kashmir and Balochistan cancelled by Calcutta Police

via Dilip Simeon's Blog

Kolkata seminar on Balochistan and Kashmir cancelled by police

NB: This is a dangerous move by the Trinamool government. If the Kolkata Police forced the cancellation on apprehension of communal disturbance, it must be on  the assumption that 'Muslim sentiment' is invariably conservative, and pro-Pakistani. This is a false and mischievous assumption, and it is precisely the kind of stereotype that feeds Hindutva anti-Muslim propaganda. The atrocities committed by the Pakistan army in 1971 are well-documented, yet there are Islamists in Kolkata who protested the decisions of the Bangladesh war-crimes tribunal in 2013. A pro-Shahbagh rally at the Bangladesh High Commission by secular democrats was called off under police pressure. 

A similar episode occurred in Chennai in 2013 when a talk by the American Islamic scholar Ms Amina Wadud was cancelled under police pressure due to threats of 'hurt sentiment' delivered by a little-known outfit called Indiya Towheed Jamaad in 2013. This kind of political interference in democratic debate is shameful and is no less communal than intimidation by Hindutva groups. 
This account of an event in Ramjas College 1988 may interest all those who are facing violent censorship today. From the hounding of Taslima Nasrin to this cancellation of a seminar on Baluchistan and Kashmir, various West Bengal governments have proven themselves to be dangerously pliable to communal pressurisation. This will have very bad repercussion. DS

An event in Kolkata that was planned to discuss atrocities by Pakistan in the Balochistan region and its crimes in Kashmir was cancelled by the proposed venue citing “unavoidable circumstances” to ensure “cordial atmosphere”. The event titled “The saga of Balochistan and Kashmir – what the world needs to know” was to have Pakistan born Canadian commentator Tarek Fatah, retired Major General GD Bakshi, Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain, Baloch activist Brahamdagh Bugti, Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit and others as participants and speakers.
According to a report published by India Today, the organisers of the event feel that the club authorities were pressurised by the Kolkata Police to deny permission for the event as it involves speakers who are known for their “anti-Pakistan” rhetoric. The report says that the club authorities forced the organisers to drop the word “Kashmir” from the event poster as it could lead to unrest in the state. And finally, the club cancelled the event itself.
Organisers say that the club was told by police that the event could hurt the sentiments of a particular community and could result in a law and order situation. It is not yet clear how discussing crimes of Pakistan could have disturbed law and order or communal harmony in Kolkata, but some believe that the presence of Tarek Fatah, who is known to be bluntly anti-Pakistan and anti-Islamism, could have triggered the cancellation of the event.
Tarek Fatah took to Twitter to protest this cancellation, which he termed as a decision taken under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists It is not for the first time when Kolkata has seen a cancellation of event under pressure of Muslim groups. Earlier in 2012, Kolkata Book Fair had cancelled the release of Taslima Nasreen’s book while in the following year, author Salman Rushdie was asked not to come to the city to attend an event. In December 2013, a TV channel had to cancel airing of a TV serial that was based on Taslima’s book after Muslim groups staged violent protests in the streets of Kolkata.

Tarek Fateh asks why Mamata objects to criticisms of Pakistan
"If it had happened due to someone’s foolishness, it is understandable but if it was deliberately cancelled by Mamata government then it is a dangerous thing as she thinks that Muslims of the state are pro –Pakistani,” said Fatah. Fatah said the email that the organisers had received from the club stated that the event was cancelled as it might lead to communal riots.