Modi’s visit to held Kashmir sparks protests

Published April 25, 2022
Muzaffarabad: Protesters shout slogans against Indian PM Narendra Modi during 
a rally in Azad Jammu and Kashmir to protest his visit to the occupied territory on Sunday.—AFP
Muzaffarabad: Protesters shout slogans against Indian PM Narendra Modi during a rally in Azad Jammu and Kashmir to protest his visit to the occupied territory on Sunday.—AFP

MUZAFFARABAD/SRINAGAR: As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in occupied Jammu and Kashmir on his first visit since the limited autonomy of the disputed territory was nullified in August 2019, Kashmiris on Sunday expressed their wrath and indignation at the coming of their “tormentor” by staging anti-India and pro-freedom rallies in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and elsewhere in Pakistan and abroad.

The call for anti-India demonstrations was jointly given by AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas and the AJK chapter of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

In the federal capital, PM Ilyas and APHC convener Farooq Rehmani were among the leaders and activists from both sides of the divide in Kashmir who lined up outside the Indian High Commis-sion to condemn Mr Modi’s visit.

Standing behind a large banner that read: “The enemy of humanity, Modi is not welcome in Kashmir”, Mr Ilyas said the purpose of Modi’s visit was a ploy to mislead the international community and deflect its attention from the real issue. It was also an abortive attempt to raise the morale of Indian army personnel who after losing battle in occupied Kashmir had been committing suicides day in and day out, he added.

“India is an occupier and a usurper in Kashmir and it has no moral justification whatsoever to visit the region that continues to bleed under its forcible occupation for the past seven decades,” the premier maintained.

Lauding the sacrifices being rendered by the Kashmiris, he said the valiant nation was scripting a new history of resistance and bravery.

Referring to India’s settler colonialism policies, Mr Ilyas pointed out that New Delhi was hell-bent upon changing the region’s demographics by settling non-state subjects in occupied Kashmir, which should not go unnoticed in the comity of nations.

“India’s crookery and savagery notwithstanding, I firmly believe that not only Kashmir will soon see the dawn of freedom but the BJP’s dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’ will also be dashed to the ground.”

APHC convener Rehmani called upon the international community not to stay oblivious to the worst-ever crimes against humanity being perpetrated by India’s fascist government and armed forces in the occupied territory.

Prominent among the participants were Ghulam Mohammad Safi, Faiz Naqshbandi, Altaf Wani, AJKLA deputy speaker Chaudhry Riaz Gujjar, PTI lawmakers Abdul Majid Khan and Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim and others.

In Muzaffarabad, a rally was taken out from Burhan Wani Chowk to Garhi Pan Chowk.

Led by AJK minister Khawaja Farooq Ahmed along with representatives of other political parties, the participants held black flags and banners and placards inscribed with anti-India and pro-independence slogans.

Responding to the anti-Modi slogans raised by the Kashmiri people, Minister Ahmed said the protesters wanted to convince the international community through demonstrations that Kashmiris never recognised the Indian occupation of their motherland.

“The arrival of a person like Modi whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent Kashmiris in any part of the territory is a highly undesirable thing for us all,” he said.

Mr Ahmed called on the international community, especially the US and the UK, to sever their relations with India, as they had done with Russia over the war in Ukraine. “Ironically, when it comes to Kashmir the double standards of the international community are rarely shrouded.”

While calling upon the UN to press India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination, he also expressed gratitude to the people of Pakistan for their unwavering support to the just cause of Kashmiris.

At the end of the rally, prayers were offered for the liberation of the Indian occupied territory.

Similar rallies were staged at all divisional and district headquarters in AJK. Demonstrations were also staged in other cities of Pakistan and abroad to express solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has sought to quell a long-running insurgency in India-held Kashmir and strengthen its hold over the Muslim-majority region, adds AFP.

India nullified the area’s limited autonomy in August 2019, when authorities arrested thousands and imposed the world’s longest internet shutdown, seeking to forestall local opposition to the move.

Sunday’s visit marked Panchayati Raj, a day that commemorates grassroots democracy — although Kashmir has been without an elected regional government since 2018. Its last chief minister was detained during the clampdown and released more than a year later.

New Delhi has long said its decision to end held Kashmir’s limited autonomy was aimed at fostering a lasting peace in the troubled region where tens of thousands of people have been killed over the years. Today, it is the most militarised part of India, with more than half a million soldiers and paramilitaries deployed across the fractious territory.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022

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