QUETTA: National flag flying at half mast in front of the Balochistan Assembly building as the nation observes India’s independence day as ‘black day’ on Thursday.—INP
QUETTA: National flag flying at half mast in front of the Balochistan Assembly building as the nation observes India’s independence day as ‘black day’ on Thursday.—INP

QUETTA: The people of Balochistan on Thursday observed India’s independence day as a ‘black day’ in protest against New Delhi’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The people condemned the brutalities committed by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir and vowed to continue to extend political and diplomatic support to the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

Black flags were hoisted at all government and private buildings, including the governor and chief minister houses and those housing the civil secretariat, Balochistan Assembly and Balochistan High Court.

The Pakistan flag remained at half mast on all government buildings. All government offices as well as educational institutions were closed.

All bazaars, shops, business establishments, shopping plazas and hotels in Quetta and other towns and cities of Balochistan were shut.

Minority Hindu community stages rallies in Hub, Sibi, Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Bagh and Bela towns

Vehicular traffic was thin as a majority of the vehicles remained off the road.

Dozens of protest rallies were held across the province to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been doing without food, medicine, drinking water and milk for children as a curfew has been imposed in all cities and towns of the held valley for the past 12 days.

The protesters wore black armbands and carried black flags. They marched on the main roads and streets of the provincial capital, chanting slogans against the Indian government. Later they gathered in front of the Quetta Press Club and burnt the Indian flag and an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speakers on the occasion condemned the Modi government for scrapping Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution. They said that through its move India had tried to change the demography of Occupied Kashmir, by allowing the Hindus to settle there, but the people of the disputed region would never accept it.

The people of held Kashmir, they said, had been struggling for their right to self-determination for the past 72 years and they would attain this right with the help of Pakistan.

The Hindu community took out processions in the industrial town of Hub, Sibi, Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Bagh, Bela and several other towns of the province. Attended by a large number of Hindus, the rallies condemned the killings of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces and asked the international community to take notice of the genocide of the people of Kashmir.

Members of various trade unions also took out processions in Quetta. They marched on the roads and chanted slogans against India and Modi and in favour of the Kashmiris. The trade union leaders said that the people of Pakistan would never leave the Kashmiri people alone and support them at every forum. They also burned an effigy of Modi.

Activists of civil society in the port city of Gwadar also expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir and held a rally. A large number of people wearing black armbands attended the rally. They held placards inscribed with slogans in support of Kashmiris and against the Modi government.

The black day was observed in every district of Balochistan, while rallies were held in Kohlu, Washuk, Kalat, Dera Bugti, Dera Murad Jamali, Khuzdar, Kalat, Sibi, Loralai, Barkhan and Bolan.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2019