ISLAMABAD: A minute’s silence was observed across the country on Wednesday to mark a year since the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The government has declared this day Youm-i-Istehsal.

Traffic also came to a halt at 10am to observe the day, which marks a year since India repealed articles 35-A and 370 of the Indian Constitution, revoking special status granted to India-held Kashmir (IHK).

President Dr Arif Alvi led a rally in the Red Zone to mark the day, where he said that India had learned how to change the demography of a territory from Israel and was doing what Israel has done in Palestine, particularly in the West Bank.

He said that India wants to bring demographic change in Kashmir, but Kashmiris have rejected the annexation outright. “If Kashmiris were happy with that move, India would not have imposed a curfew in the valley today to prevent them from expressing their anger,” he said.

Rallies, seminars held to mark a year since revocation of IHK’s special status

A number of other activities were held in the capital.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Moeed Yousuf, parliamentarians from both the government and the opposition and other government officials marched from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to D-Chowk.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz led a walk from the Zero Point Interchange to the Press Information Department. In the evening, Mr Qureshi, Senator Faraz and Mr Yousuf unveiled a new ‘Pakistan Map’ on the wall of Fatima Jinnah Park and held a rally there.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Shehryar Khan Afridi, demanded that the international community and the United Nations declare Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) a terrorist organisation due to its history of involvement in acts of violence against minorities in general and Muslims in particular, which violates international humanitarian law, the UN Charter and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr Afridi was speaking at a meeting with a delegation from the Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK).

Rawalpindi

Rallies, seminars and other events were organised by the government and civil society organisations to observe the day.

At a seminar, Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood said that the Indian government made a big mistake by stripping IHK of its special status, and the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination would not end.

He added that the Pakistani nation stands with Kashmir, and would continue to highlight Indian military action in IHK.

“The day was observed but there is a need to urge the world comity to stop India’s violation of human rights,” he said.

A rally was also held in front of the district courts led by MNA Rashid Shafique and Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq. Students, traders, Tiger Force volunteers, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and government officials participated.

Peace and Culture Organisation Mashal Malik, who is married to Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik, said that the people of IHK are continuing to struggle for their independence despite Indian atrocities. She said tyranny is on the rise, but the stability of the Kashmiri people has not faltered.

Ms Malik gave a lecture uploaded by the Punjab Arts Council Rawalpindi on Youtube. The Punjab Arts Council Rawalpindi has also presented a documentary on Indian action against the people of IHK in the last year. The documentary also focuses on the problems facing the people of Kashmir during the coronavirus pandemic. It was screened on a projector for a large number of people while maintaining social distance.

Muzaffarabad

Rallies and demonstrations were also staged across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

In Muzaffarabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan led a rally from the helipad to the nearby Legislative Assembly building, where he later addressed the lawmakers to express support for the besieged Kashmiris and condemnation of India’s fascist actions.

Participants of the rally included AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, federal ministers Shibli Faraz, Ali Amin Gandapur, APHC representatives.

Many of them were holding flags of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Haider himself led a big rally from outside the Supreme Court building in Chattar tothe UN military observer mission near Domel, the confluence of rivers Neelum and Jhelum.

Apart from the cabinet and assembly members from the ruling PML-N, leaders and representatives of opposition parties and APHC were also among the participants, whopresented a memorandum to the UN observers.

The memorandum has drawn attention of the UN Secretary General towards Indian steps in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, international law as well as bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan with an appeal to play his long due role in this regard at the earliest.

Attock

Various events were held in Attock and Taxila to mark the first anniversary of New Delhi’s revocation of IHK’s special status.

At a seminar at Jinnah Hall, Punjab Minister for Revenue retired Col Mohammad Anwar Khan said Youm-i-Ihtehsal has been observed as a sign of protest against Indian action in IHK.

He said oppressed Kashmiris have been forced to live under Indian oppression, and 12 months have passed since the military siege in the region.

Mr Khan said India was pursuing a police of extremism and expansionism to establish Hindutva, and the abrogation of articles 370 and 35-A reflected that mindset. He said the Indian government threatened regional peace and stability by abrogating the special status of IHK.

Punjab Public Accounts Committee Chairman Syed Yawar Abbas Bokhari said that India’s behaviour was a threat to regional peace and the worst face Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been exposed. He said India had colonised Kashmir and broken the promise of self-determination that it made to the Kashmiri people almost 70 years ago.In Taxila, a small rally was led by MPA Ammar Sadeeq Khan and local administration officials. — Additional reporting by Tariq Naqash & Amjad Iqbal

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020