Kashmir literary festival cancelled amid fears of violence

Calls for protests at a literary festival due to be held in Kashmir have led to the event being cancelled due to fears of violence.

Calls for protests at a literary festival in Kashmir have led to the event being cancelled due to fears of violence.

Opponents have set up a Facebook page arguing there is no freedom of speech in Kashmir and a section of local and Indian authors and filmmakers wrote an open letter in protest against the festival that said holding the event would "portray that all is normal in Kashmir". The letter said, "Holding such a festival would dovetail with the state’s concerted attempt to portray that all is normal in Kashmir.”  It was signed by leading Kashmiri writers Basharat Peer and Mirza Waheed among others.

The two day Harud literary festival was scheduled to being on September 24 in Srinagar, Kashmir's largest city and the main hub of opposition to Indian rule.

A statement from organisers cancelling the event said that many participants “have voiced their concerns about possible violence during the festival due to the heightened nature of the debate, and a call for protest at the venues. We neither have the desire to be responsible for yet more unrest in the valley nor to propagate mindless violence in the name of free speech. We are therefore left   with little alternative but to cancel the festival for now.”

Anti-India sentiments run high in the region, which has been wracked by a deadly insurgency against New Delhi’s rule since 1989.

Published: August 30, 2011 04:00 AM

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