MUZAFFARABAD: Tens of hundreds of emotionally charged Kashmiris from different parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Friday set out in vehicular and motorcycle rallies to Muzaffarabad on the call of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to show solidarity with their besieged brethren in India-occupied Kashmir as well as to draw attention of the international community to the urgent need of long pending issue’s peaceful settlement.
“Thousands of people are on their way to Muzaffarabad as participants of peoples’ freedom march towards Srinagar via Chakothi sector,” said Mohammad Rafiq Dar, the central spokesperson for JKLF.
He said one caravan comprising more than 600 vehicles and 200 motorcycles from Bhimber, Mirpur, Kotli, Poonch and Sudhnoti districts had left district headquarters Rawalakot at about 7pm, while another caravan of more than 300 vehicles and 100 motorcycles from Bagh and Haveli districts was about to reach Kohala.
The caravans from Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi had also crossed Kohala, he said, adding that all of them were expected to reach Muzaffarabad by midnight.
JKLF leader announces they would cross over Line of Control for Srinagar
“The marchers from Neelum district have already reached Muzaffarabad, while people in Jhelum district will join the march in their respective areas on Saturday,” he said.
Witnesses said the marchers holding AJK and JKLF flags kept on chanting pro-freedom, pro-independence and anti-India slogans throughout the journey.
JKLF spokesperson Dar said that the marchers would put up at different places in Muzaffarabad on Friday and resume their march towards Chakothi at 10am on Saturday.
“From Chakothi we will cross over the ceasefire line (LoC) for Srinagar,” he said, reiterating his desire that the administration and police would not create hindrances for them.
Meanwhile, residents in Jhelum valley said deployment of heavy contingents of AJK police had started by Friday evening to meet any eventuality.
Earlier in the day, divisional commissioner Chaudhry Imtiaz, deputy inspector general of police Sardar Ilyas Khan and additional secretary home Masoodur Rehman visited press club to make an appeal to people to avoid getting close to the LoC “in the interest of their own safety”.
The commissioner said that representation of sentiments of the people to condemn Indian atrocities was a commendable move and the administration had full realisation of these sentiments.
“However, there are strong apprehensions that the Indian army would resort to shelling at the people assembling along the LoC which can subsequently cause serious casualties,” he said, urging “the participants of all rallies and processions not to provide any opportunity to the enemy to hurt unarmed citizens”.
Though the officials declined to take up questions, there were, however, reports that the administration had planned to stop the marchers beyond Chinari, located about 10km before the LoC.
Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2019