Freedom Under Fire: Class XI Student Dies as Protests Spread in Kashmir; Pistol, Threat Letter to Kanhaiya, Umar Recovered from Bus

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

Protests in Srinagar on Friday against the killing of four persons over the Handwara incident. Credit: PTI

Protests in Srinagar on Friday against the killing of four persons over the Handwara incident. Credit: PTI

Class XI student fifth to die as protests spread in Kashmir

A 19-year-old Class XI student, who was among the four injured Friday when security forces opened fire on protesters hurling stones at an army camp in the Natnusa area of Kupwara, died of injuries in a Srinagar hospital, The Indian Express reported.

Arif Hussain was the fifth person to die in protests that started in Handwara on Tuesday (April 12) over the alleged molestation of a minor girl, who is now said to be “under police protection” along with her father, by a soldier.

The protests have spilled to other parts of Kashmir, with clashes reported from Baramulla, Kangan and Tral. The Hurriyat faction headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front have called for a shutdown on Saturday.

Pistol, threat letter to Kanhaiya, Umar recovered from bus

According to a NDTV report, a loaded pistol and a letter threatening to behead JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid were recovered from a bag in a DTC bus.

The police have tightened security measures after this.

Murthal gang rape complainant gets threat call

Bobby Joshi, the complainant in the Murthal gang rape case, has alleged that he received a call threatening him with dire consequences for “speaking too much” on the matter, a report in The Hindu says.

Joshi’s complaint lead the police to file an FIR alleging gang rapes in Murthal during the Jat agitation in February.

Anti-Maoist outfit that ‘hounded’ activists, journalists disbanded

According to a report in The Indian Express, the Samajik Ekta Manch, a group working out of Bastar’s Jagdalpur area, that has come under fire for its alleged role in hounding out activists, journalists and lawyers, announced its own “disbanding” with immediate effect on Friday.

The Manch’s self-proclaimed agenda was to rally against Maoists. The group drew flak for its close relationship with the district police and for branding journalist Malini Subramaniam, lawyers Isha Khandelwal and Shalini Gera of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, activist Bela Bhati and economist Jean Dreze as Maoist sympathisers. These activists have called the Manch a “front for the police” and an attempt to intimidate “any voice critical of police excesses”.

In parched Latur, 10,000 litres water for a helipad for Maharashtra minister

Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse landed in a controversy on Friday after it emerged that 10,000 litres of water was allegedly used for a makeshift helipad in a village in Latur district where he was going for a review of the drought situation in Marathwada, a report in The Indian Express says.

Dismissing the protests, Khadse said that untreated water released from a filtration plant located in Belkund village was used for the helipad. “The allegations that drinking water was used for the helipad are baseless and false. The untreated water was released from the filtration plant that had been lying idle for the past six years. This water was used for the helipad,” he said.

On Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, Dalit scholar ‘evicted’ from Hyderabad varsity

According to a Hindustan Times report, a Dalit research scholar was allegedly evicted from a university in Hyderabad on Thursday, sparking anger among students attending a function to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar.

Koonal Duggal said he may have been targeted by the English and Foreign Languages University for participating in the agitation seeking justice for Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide in January sparked a debate over caste bias on campuses.

“The moment I finished my speech and song, three security guards pushed me and tried to forcibly take me to (the) chief security officer,” Koonal said. “They did not give any reason for this. They, in fact, disrupted the event.”

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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