Justice Markandey Katju-
An article by Junaid Kathju titled ‘ Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium to be renamed after Sardar Patel ‘ has been published in the portal thewire.in. The article states that this change of name is likely to be declared on 15th December, the death anniversary of Sardar Patel. It is also stated therein that many roads, streets and other public places in Kashmir are also likely to be renamed.
The Chinar Foundation, which is an organisation recently formed, consisting of all Kashmiris, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh, strongly protests against this move. While we have nothing against Sardar Patel, we believe that he had no connection with Kashmir. Therefore it would be wholly inappropriate to name the Stadium after him.
We fully agree that Sheikh Abdullah’s name should be removed from all public places, institutions and organisations, since he and his family were corrupt and looted Kashmir. But we demand that in his place the name of the Stadium should be changed to Sultan Zain ul Abidin ( or Budshah ) Stadium, after the great secular King of Kashmir, who, like Emperor Akbar ( see my article ‘ Emperor Akbar–the real Father of the Indian Nation on my blog Satyam Bruyat ), was tolerant and was loved by all in Kashmir, Hindu, Muslim etc.
The Chinar Foundation also demands that public places, roads, streets etc, if they are to be renamed, should be given the names of the great Kashmiris, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, who contributed to the history, composite culture and welfare of Kashmir, e.g. Kalhan ( a great historian ), Habba Khatoon ( a great poet ), Nooruddin Sheikh, also known as Nund Rishi ( a Sufi Saint ), Laxman Joo ( a great scholar of Kashmir Shaivism ), Parveena Ahangar ( Chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Kashmir ) etc.
Chinar Foundation demands immediate restoration of Internet facilities and pre-paid mobile services in Kashmir, since today these are not luxuries but necessities. Immense hardship is being caused to the people of Kashmir by continued prohibition of these facilities. We also demand immediate lifting of restrictions on freedom of speech and of the media, withdrawal of curfew anywhere in the Kashmir Valley, and freedom to anyone to travel to Kashmir and meet anyone and speak freely, both within Kashmir, and outside.
We agree with what the celebrated Judge of the US Supreme Court, Justice Louis Brandeis, said in Whitney vs Caifornia, 1927 ( see online ) :
” Those who won our independence were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of free speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
Even advocacy of violation of law, however reprehensible morally, is not a ground for denying free speech unless it is clear the call for violation would be immediately acted upon “.
We also agree with the ‘ imminent lawless action ‘ test ( the Brandenburg test ), laid down by the US Supreme Court in Brandenburg vs Ohio, 1969 ( see online ), followed by the Indian Supreme Court in Arup Bhuyan vs State of Assam, and Sri Indra Das vs State of Assam ( see online ) which alone can justify prohibition of free speech.
Those who wish to know more about the Chinar Foundation may contact Fauzia Jalali, a Kashmiri settled in San Jose, California, who is the International Director of Chinar Foundation, on email@example.com.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.]