Omar heckled at Berkeley

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah was heckled by Kashmiri Americans at the University of California, Berkeley, triggering condemnation by pro-India groups in the Valley.

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Srinagar
  • Published 21.04.18
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Omar Abdullah. File picture

Srinagar: Former chief minister Omar Abdullah was heckled by Kashmiri Americans at the University of California, Berkeley, triggering condemnation by pro-India groups in the Valley.

A video has surfaced on social media where protesters are seen trying to block Omar, calling him, his father Farooq Abdullah and grandfather Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah "criminals".

Omar briefly engaged with them, telling them they were not Kashmiris. One protester replied he hailed from Gojwara in Srinagar's old city.

A woman protester called Omar and Farooq "war criminals" and said they would take him to the International Court of Justice.

The Opposition National Conference leader had on April 17 tweeted that he was elated to participate in a session at University of California, Berkeley.

Pro-Kashmir academics and diaspora members had launched an online campaign against the university for inviting Omar to the campus, claiming he was not the real representative of the Kashmiris.

"Berkeley is wilfully providing a platform to Mr Omar Abdullah and allowing him to masquerade as the representative of the people of the occupied Kashmir, which he is clearly not," the document read.

"We expect Berkeley to do their due diligence in the future and consider the repercussions of allowing client politicians such as Omar Abdullah the privilege of speaking on behalf of the people whom he does not represent."

Some had also launched an online petition to "stop Omar Abdullah from speaking at UC Berkeley".

The petition said hundreds of civilians were killed when Omar was Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.

Kashmir is seething with anger against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu's Kathua and civilian killings in the Valley, which have led to countless clashes between security forces and protesters in recent weeks.

Campaigns by the Kashmiri diaspora have also been launched in the US and some other countries against the rape and murder of the girl. The pro-India politicians have been finding it difficult to reach out to people.

The development at Berkeley has angered the pro-India politicians.

Javaid Trali, a media analyst in the ruling PDP-BJP government, said the protesters were "ISI proxies masquerading as Kashmiris".

"Strongly condemn the misbehaviour with @OmarAbdullah by a group ISI proxies, who claim to be Kashmiris, in Berkeley. We may not agree with Omar, but he represents JKNC - a formidable political outfit & movement, whose contribution in shaping people's destiny can't be denied!" he tweeted.

National Conference spokesperson Junaid Mattu called the sloganeering a manifestation of identity crisis.#