MUZAFFARABAD: Demonstrations were held across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) for the second consecutive day on Tuesday to condemn India’s move to scrap the special status of held Kashmir on the one hand and refresh calls to Pakistan to take “bold steps” on the other.
In Muzaffarabad, participants of a rally marched from Azadi Chowk near the press club to an army installation, which houses the offices of the United Nations Military Observers, near Domel, at the confluence of rivers Neelum and Jhelum.
Holding black flags, banners and placards, many of the protesters staged a sit-in outside the army installation to express indignation against the Indian move.
While shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, they also called upon the UN to play its due role in held Kashmir.
“This world cannot afford to have another Palestine, and we will not let it happen either,” said Aziz Ahmed, a 32-year-old participant, alluding to a widely prevailing perception that the Hindu-nationalist BJP government had been seeking guidelines from Israel to render Kashmiri Muslims homeless in their own home on the pattern of the Palestinians.
“The UN must intervene to stop India from going ahead with its ghastly plans in the disputed region of Kashmir,” he added.
Many also called upon Islamabad to go beyond offering “mere” moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmir.
“For God’s sake, stop this rhetoric now. You are a party to the dispute and you have every right to ensure implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” said Usama Awan, referring to the government of Pakistan.
“Today, when the Kashmiris are going through the most difficult times of their history, hasn’t the time come for Pakistan to move beyond offering ritual moral, diplomatic and political support?” asked another participant. Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, a migrant leader, said it should be clear to India that Kashmiris had waged an armed struggle against her tyranny without any pause for 30 years and they would continue the same for another 30 years.
“But we will never surrender to Indian hegemony,” he said.
In Neelum Valley, which had recently faced cluster bomb attacks from across the LoC, shops remained shut in most of the villages and towns in condemnation of India’s move
A mammoth demonstration was held in the town of Kotli, with people chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, vociferously.
Similar rallies were taken out in Mirpur and other AJK towns.
As the region remained cut off from the rest of the world due to clampdown on telecommunication facilities, many divided families were worried about the well-being of their loved ones across the divide.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2019