Kashmir writer’s festival over before it began

As someone who believes in the responsibility of artists and intellectuals to take a stand against tyranny, this news is positive:

Indian-administered Kashmir’s first major literature festival has been cancelled after local writers and artists said it would give the false impression that basic freedoms are allowed in the troubled region.

The Harud literary festival was scheduled for 24-26 September in Srinagar, Kashmir’s largest city and the main hub of opposition to Indian rule.

Festival organisers said the event would be apolitical and showcase “India’s multicultural ethos”. But local writers argued that years of intimidation have made residents unable to speak their minds.

The cancellation late on Monday came as the region enjoys an unexpectedly peaceful summer after three years of violent anti-Indian protests and crackdowns.

The Kashmiri writers Basharat Peer and Mirza Waheed, who have written books set in post-1989 Kashmir, when an armed rebellion and military crackdown began, were the first to refuse to participate.

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