MUZAFFARABAD: Students, civil society, and political activists lined up in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Wednesday to express anger at India’s denial of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination amid horrendous rights violations in the illegally occupied territory of the disputed Himalayan region.
The demonstration was held at Burhan Wani Chowk as part of the activities planned by the Kashmiris in different areas of the liberated territory and elsewhere in Pakistan to mark India’s Republic Day as ‘black day’.
Most demonstrators held banners and placards inscribed with slogans reminding the international community in general and the United Nations in particular of their apparently forgotten obligations to facilitate a free, fair, and impartial plebiscite in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to let its inhabitants decide their future status on their own free accord.
Many students fluttered black flags while elders held black balloons which were released when participants started a rally towards Garhi Pan Chowk.
“Go India go back [from Kashmir],” shouted the participants as they paraded through the main thoroughfare up to Garhi Pan Chowk.
Earlier, speaking to participants, local government and rural development (LG&RD) minister Khawaja Farooq Ahmed said it was ridiculous on the part of India to brand itself a secular, democratic republic when on the one hand it had usurped the internationally-acknowledged right to self-determination of Kashmiris, while on the other it was patronizing constant persecution of its own citizens from the minority communities, particularly the Muslims, Christians, Sikh, and Dalits.
The AJK minister commended Prime Minister Imran Khan for “eloquently raising the issue of Kashmir and the atrocities by Indian forces in the occupied territory at all international forums.”
Others who spoke on the occasion were parliamentary secretaries Syed Mazhar Saeed, Taqdees Gillani, Kashmiri migrants leader Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir.
At a separate function, PTI president and senior minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas said the presence of more than 700,000 Indian troops in occupied Kashmir was proofthat India’s message of democracy to the world was nothing but an eye-wash.