Muzamil Jaleel from Srinagar

From The Indian Express: “I had no other way to protest but to throw my shoe

“Abdul Ahad Jan who hurled his shoe towards Chief Minister Omar Abdullah during Independence Day parade in Srinagar has become an instant hit with the Valley’s protestors and disgruntled policemen who see his act as a representation of their anger towards the government.

As the national flag was being unfurled and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stood up at the raised podium with Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda next to him, the calm of the highly fortified Bakshi stadium broke with a sudden uproar in the exclusive VIP enclosure. A man sitting in the third row had taken off his brown shinny shoe and hurled it straight towards the podium. The shoe missed the target but attracted the intended attention immediately. Within seconds, a group of security men pounced on him, grabbed his body, lifted him and then whisked him away. The only sound that the man made before the security men gagged his mouth was a slogan – “we want freedom’’.

The police top brass then used every possible adjective to denigrate the man, terming him “mentally unfit’’, “drunkard’’, “robber’’ and extortionist’’. Soon the official discourse shifted to the breach of security. Bakshi stadium is not an ordinary play ground, it is heavily fortified camp as well. It is a permanent venue for two most important annual official functions as well – India’s Republic Day and the Independence Day.”

The shoe thrower and the picture capturing it, meanwhile, became an instant hit among valley’s young protestors and Jan even got an exclusive facebook page opened for his fans. And even as police top brass launched a campaign to prove him mentally unfit and rogue, Jan become a hero among large sections of the people as well as police who find his act of throwing a shoe brave and a representation of the mass anger towards the government. Thousands of people gathered at his home in Ajas and celebrated by beating drums and shouting slogans – “Teri Jan, meri Jan – Ahad Jan Ahad Jan’’.

The derby shoe he was wearing had been confiscated by the police. Jan started crying as he talked about his arrest. ``They took me to a room and threw me in a corner. Then DIG (Deputy Inspector General of Police) and nine other policemen came. They hit me and trampled me. They kicked me so hard in my stomach and chest that I started bleeding from my mouth,’’ he said. “They were abusing me while they beat me’’.

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