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Mehbooba Mufti forced to leave women’s SHG event as protesters raise ‘azaadi’ slogans

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was forced to leave a women’s self-help group (SHG) function here today when the crowd shouted slogans against her and even flung chairs in the air. Mehbooba, who was hastily escorted out of the venue by her security, sought to downplay the incident and told reporters that her government was trying to help the women and she would continue her efforts in this regard.

The chaos had begun early in the morning when some of the women — mostly from south Kashmir which has seen an upsurge in violence since July last year — raised ‘azaadi’ slogans outside the SKICC convention centre where the event was being held.

The women were whisked away before the chief guest arrived but that was not the end of the trouble. The anger was evident when Mehbooba reached the venue where thousands of women from various self-help groups had gathered, an official said. The function had been organised by the Rural Development Department.

The programme began with the religious ritual “naath”. Soon after, a group of women at the back of the hall got up and started shouting slogans against the chief minister. A few chairs were also flung in the air, leading to chaos.

According to eyewitnesses, rumours of an earthquake started as soon as the unruly scenes began. This led to panic with many participants running towards the exit. The chief minister was rushed out by her security staff and the function was postponed for sometime. It continued later, but without Mehbooba.

Security agencies had warned the organisers that trouble was brewing and that the chief minister should stay away, an official said.