A group of student volunteers wearing masks and carrying a rainbow banner representing the LGBTQ community disrupted an event in London that was organised to call for the restoration of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The event titled ‘Resisting Fascism building Solidarities – India: Kashmir and beyond’ was hosted by the South Asia Solidarity Group at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, the University of London.
While the event was being held, a group of five people wearing balaclava masks interrupted the panel with a rainbow flag which read: ‘Gay for J&K’ and ‘370 is homophobic’.
The event was chaired by Professor Dibyesh Anand, Head of School of Social Sciences at the University of Westminster and the panel included Kavita Krishnan, Politburo member of CPIML, Dr Nitasha Kaul of Westminster University and many others.
At the event, the Indian government’s decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K by abrogating the provisions under Article 370 was being criticised and questioned.
The masked men, who raised slogans ‘Gay for J&K’, said that those who oppose the repeal of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir support homophobia and its removal means LGBTQ community different universities who did not want to risk their student status. Sources said the students wanted to send a message that “it was eye-opening to see how Article 370 was suppressing the rights of the LGBTQ people in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Speaking to India Today TV about the protest, Professor Dibyesh Anand said he was disappointed to see gay activists disrung the event and that they did not even wait to listen to the panelists.
“As a queer person who chaired the event, I was disappointed to see how some purportedly gay activists disrupted our event as if India is gay-friendly and has no homophobia. They did not even wait to listen to us. They illegally set off the fire alarm. I can bet these disruptors are not queers; if they were, they would be in solidarity with all oppressed,” he said.
Kavita Krishnan, who was speaking when the mask-clad people disrupted her speech, claimed the masked men belonged to the right-wing organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, “masquerading as LGBTQ activists”.
“This was a masked group of RSS people masquerading as LGBTQ activists. This is proved by the fact that their leaflet attacks the Left, while in fact, the Left has supported LGBTQ rights while the RSS far-right has not! In fact, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy still makes homophobic statements openly on TV as a BJP spokesperson,” she said.