MUZAFFARABAD: A total of 31 activists of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), including three women, went on hunger strike for 24 hours on Monday as part of the pro-independence group’s strategy to exert pressure on the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad for acceptance of its demands.
The hunger strike was observed at Jiskool, a spot located some 8km before the Line of Control (LoC) in Chakothi sector, where the JKLF-led ‘freedom march’ had came to a halt on Oct 5 due to the blockade of Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway by the AJK administration.
Ever since, the participants of the march have been staging a sit-in at the same spot. In order to end their sit-in, the JKLF leaders had demanded that the AJK government either remove the containers and let them continue their march towards the LoC or invite the representatives of the UN Secretary General or P5 members of UN Security Council at Jiskool to whom they could present their demands.
Last week, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider had written a letter to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, asking the latter to take some steps in the light of the demands by the JKLF leaders. However, so far it was not clear whether the federal government had responded to Mr Haider’s letter or not.
While reiterating those demands at a press conference on Sunday, Mohammad Rafiq Dar, central spokesperson for the JKLF, had announced that the participants of the sit-in would observe hunger strike in groups “in the first phase of group’s next strategy”.
“One batch of party leaders and activists will start hunger strike from 10am on Monday for 24 hours. It will be replaced by another batch from the same time on the following day,” he had told, warning that in case of non-acceptance of demands, a hunger strike unto death would be observed in the next phase.
On Monday, the ‘first batch’ of 31, led by JKLF vice chairman Saleem Haroon and central deputy secretary general Sajid Siddiqui, observed hunger strike for 24 hours.
Three female JKLF activists — Nusrat Qureshi from Bagh district and Tahira Toqeer and Danish Sani from Kotli district — also observed hunger strike.
Lord Qurban Hussain, a British-Pakistani Liberal Democrat politician, also spoke to the participants of the sit-in by telephone and expressed his support for them.