Divided families urge India, Pakistan to leave Kashmir

By AFP
Published: June 10, 2012

Hundreds of Kashmiris stage an emotional demonstration, ask India, Pakistan to withdraw troops. PHOTO: AGENCIES/FILE

KERAN: Hundreds of Kashmiris on Sunday staged an emotional demonstration to urge India and Pakistan to withdraw troops from the disputed Himalayan region.

On the Pakistani side, tearful relatives waved across the gushing Neelum, which separates the two countries, to their family on the Indian side, using loudspeakers to try to speak to them, an AFP photographer said.

But the deafening roar of the river, about 200 feet wide at the village of Keran, was too loud for the cries to carry across to the Indian side.

About 600 men and women gathered by the river in Keran, about 90 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir. Many migrated to Muzaffarabad in 1990 to escape violence.

The gathering, called by nationalists, was a rare occasion – the authorities do not normally allow such events on the river.

For Ashraf Jan, who left her mother and father to come to Muzaffarabad with her aunt in 1947, it was almost too much.

Overwhelmed with emotion, the 70-year-old had to be stopped by relatives from jumping in the furious river to try to reach her ageing parents on the Indian side.

“Let me go. I just want to see my parents and after that if I die, I will be in peace,” she said.

Indian police and military did not allow Kashmiris on the other side to come near the river bank and they were left to wave from a distance.

Though Kashmiris can cross the border via a special bus service started in 2005, it requires lengthy clearance procedures at both sides, meaning few go.

Arif Shahid, president of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference, urged India and Pakistan to divert their military spending to help poor people in both countries.

“India and Pakistan are wasting money on arms when millions of people have to sleep without any meal every night. They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us so that they are able to work for the welfare of their citizens,” Shahid said.

There are nearly a dozen Kashmir groups fighting for the divided Muslim-majority region to become part of Pakistan and over 47,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of a separatist insurgency in 1989.

But violence has dropped sharply in Kashmir since India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • alicia
    Jun 10, 2012 - 6:45PM

    sad

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  • Jun 10, 2012 - 7:03PM

    This is an interesting development, no doubt.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:06PM

    It can be a good solution for all three parties to let the Kashmir be an independent state under UNO until it stands on its own while establishing foreign and fiscal policies of a viable independent country without any influence of neighbors.

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  • Batman
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:08PM

    “They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us” Only India should withdraw. I am from Azad Kashmir and we are already liberated and we proudly consider ourselves to be part of Pakistan. The only part that now needs liberation is the one occupied by India.

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  • Truth
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:26PM

    Hey ET, please run a story on the lives of people of Azad kashmir or Pak occupied Kashmir (depending on which side of the border you’re in.) I have read some books about the Indian side but have absolutely no idea about the other side.

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  • Ordinary Villager
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:26PM

    @AnisAqeel: Under UN means that India and Pakistan will leave Kashmir and then America and Europe will come here and will establish there bases for so called peace and then neighboring China who will consider this as a Strategic threat will spring into action and it will be another focal point of conflict of the future. Also neighbors influence always remain whatever the reason may be and no country could be independent without having any inter dependency on any other neighboring nation. Culture and economy always transcends boundaries. We could say that full autonomy will be given to Kashmir but it will be make sure that No other country will take advantage and will come in this region as uninvited guest.

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  • Dr.A.Tewari
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:32PM

    Stop day dreaming . India is a home of a large population of muslim . There can be no further division of the on the name of religion . Better all those who like to live pakistan type freedom migrate to POK and liberate it . But never think that World will ever allow to repeat the Himalayan blunder ,

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  • Ordinary Villager
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:39PM

    @Dr.A.Tewari: If Kashmiris want liberation then it is their right. Who are you to decide about their fate by sitting in some part of India and then deciding about the fate of Kashmiris. They are not slaves of India and they are every right to live the way they want to live.

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  • Tariq
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:46PM

    As much as i Love Pakistan. The Only possible solution is “Kashmir for Kashmiris”.

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  • Indian Dude
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:53PM

    @Batman: No way batman. Kashmir is our integral part.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Jun 10, 2012 - 8:18PM

    @Ordinary Villager:
    I meant full autonomy when I say foreign and fiscal independence but with UNO supervision otherwise any more powerful country will influence e.g. China, India, Pakistan and the Western Nations. UNO does not mean only USA or Europe it is consisting of over 250 countries and all the above mentioned countries are part of it. Your fears are correct.

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  • Umer
    Jun 10, 2012 - 8:21PM

    Pakistan is ready to withdraw after India does. Pakistan has always talked about a free and transparent plebiscite by a neutral party according to UN resolutions. Because for Pakistan the voice of Kashmiris matters. Kashmir is of Kashmiris. While India rejects plebiscite options and and considers Kashmir its integral part. India has never been serious. She talks about “meaningless bilateral talks” and wants to prolong the Kashmir issue.

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  • John B
    Jun 10, 2012 - 8:34PM

    Divided families can emigrate to the other side, whichever side they want. A family of few thousands cannot hold two nations as hostages. Learn to live with the others.

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  • farzand
    Jun 10, 2012 - 9:23PM

    The families were divided in 1948 out of choice.Their number at that time was 1143 including those frojm Poonch ,Rajauri Keran Karnah Teetwal Uri and some from Srinagar.Most are pahari speaking and not kashmiri.The issue got high lighted after opening of the Uri Muzafferabad link.Initially there was some enthusiasm.Presently almost empty buses ply on bot.h sides.Kashmiris are a clever folk who know which side of their toast is buttered. They dont want to join PAK including the hard head Geelani.They will continue to extract the max from the Indian Banias and then suddenly the the apresent agitationists will aim for politiccal empowerment.Recommend

  • Animal Farm - Desi
    Jun 10, 2012 - 9:28PM

    Folks: look, Kashmir is the major reason for the justification of having one of the largest armies in the world and our defence spending. Why do you want to snatch away this ‘blessing’ from us? Further, who is interested in what you feel and think? We, both India and Pakistan, are interested in this piece of land for the resources and of course, for the egos.

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  • sick of this nonsense
    Jun 10, 2012 - 10:43PM

    Divide Kashmir or not they should be allowed to travel freely to meet their relatives. What savagery will not let a daughter meet her parents? Fault lies with BOTH nations for acting like 6 year olds.

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Jun 10, 2012 - 10:44PM

    @Umer: Please read the Shimla Agreement

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  • G. Din
    Jun 10, 2012 - 11:19PM

    “They are not slaves of India and they are every right to live the way they want to live.”
    Both statements are true. India does not consider anyone its slave. Everyone in the world has “every right to live the way they want to live”.
    But, this right does not include the right to carry his/her plot of land to where he wants to live. Go and live wherever you wish to. No one is stopping you. But, do not ever dream that the piece of land for which India has sacrificed its flower of youth from all its corners shall ever part from their motherland. That woman did not have to enact a drama of jumping into the river to see her parents;if she really wanted, she could pay for her ticket and travel in style on a regular bus that plies between the two countries to meet them.
    These histrionics do not impress us!

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  • ishtiaq_uk
    Jun 10, 2012 - 11:35PM

    Only solution is Independent Kashmir…..as pakistan and India will not ‘just give it up to one another’. Solution presented by Musharaffe seemed most viable at present. Let the three parties control and manage Kashmir jointly…..until a time comes where it can be passed over to the kashmiris to take full control. From an expat-Kashmiri.

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  • Kailash
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:24AM

    It’s really sad they r not provided AK47s by ISI nor Hafeez Saeed is not leading the team. Really sad

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  • Pungi
    Jun 11, 2012 - 12:43AM

    Pakistan respects Kashmiris and their rights… Pakistan will happily accept the decision made by Kashmiris through the plebiscite under UN… However, India need to show some humanity if they have any… otherwise in their thirst of making slaves they might become slaves themselves..!

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  • Shadowliner
    Jun 11, 2012 - 1:06AM

    Ah! Pakistanis seem to live for such headlines from Kashmir. Look at the outpouring of empathy for the poor Kashmiris. I wonder where their empathy goes when their all weather friend suppresses Tibetans so brutally it makes the Indian Army look like boy scouts.

    Hypocrites. No wonder the world doesn’t take Pakistani politicians/generals seriously.

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  • Jim
    Jun 11, 2012 - 1:26AM

    @Umer The UN resolutions on Kashmir asks Pakistan (and not India) to withdraw its troops from the undivided J&K. As for the “Kashmiris” who want India to withdraw, my ancestors have lived in Kashmir for millennia, long before the advent of Islam, which is less than 1400 years old. So should we be asking for all Muslims to withdraw and get out of the region? Grow up, people; this is the 21st century. Live and let live. Even in the U.S,, the native white population is now in a minority. There will be vast movement of people across the world with job- and economic-related migration. Focus on educating yourself. All this empty sloganeering and posturing — Kashmir banega Pakistan, Azadi etc will only bring you grief, not growth.

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  • IndianDude
    Jun 11, 2012 - 2:11AM

    India should let all the kashmiri to cross the border so that they can go to POK to visit their families.once the kashmiri have crossed across to the POK, india should close the gates behind them. A win win situation for all!

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jun 11, 2012 - 3:07AM

    gushing Neelum,which separates the two countries” “he 70-year-old had to be stopped by relatives from jumping in the furious river ” This is for people who complain that the next war will be about water or India is holding water back.

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  • Truthbetold
    Jun 11, 2012 - 3:39AM

    “India and Pakistan are wasting money on arms when millions of people have to sleep without any meal every night. They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us so that they are able to work for the welfare of their citizens,” Shahid said.”

    He says “liberate us”. Isn’t he already liberated since Pakistan claims that Azad Kashmir is a free country as implied by its name?

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  • Zeta
    Jun 11, 2012 - 5:32AM

    @Indian Dude:
    Kashmir is integral Part of Kashmiris, Indians have no right to dictate their terms

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  • vasan
    Jun 11, 2012 - 6:24AM

    It is all rubbish to make Kashmir independent state. We do not want another land locked, violence and terrorism prone “independent” muslim state right at the border of India. Pak has suffered due to Afganistan and vice verse. Such kind of suffering is nobody’s interest. The concept of Nation state binds the Kashmir on the Indian side of LOC to India and POK to Pakistan. Let us make the border soft and allow free movement of kashmiris. If Punjab and Bengal were any example,. there is no reason against the division of Kashmir, Accept the LOC as international border and convince your population to accept the same.
    Free movement of all residents of POK may be difficut for Pakistansince Pak has changed the demography of POK. May be we should allow a visa free regime only for the divided families ie 1150 families as somebody put the number to that.
    May be India should lease out Indian side of Kashmir to NATO for 50 years. That will solve the issue for Pakistan and Afganistan. (Take it easy guys, it is on the lighter side)

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    Jun 11, 2012 - 6:34AM

    @Pungi: Please read the Shimla Agreement singned by ZAB , this closes the pelbisite chapter .

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  • Zeta Abbu
    Jun 11, 2012 - 8:40AM

    @Truthbetold:
    Azad Kashmir is only coined in Pakistan, otherwise it is called “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”

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  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 11, 2012 - 7:23PM

    “India and Pakistan are wasting money on arms when millions of people have to sleep without any meal every night. They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us so that they are able to work for the welfare of their citizens,” Shahid said.

    Mr. Shahid we did not sacrifice billions in dollars and thousands in lives so that the end of the day you will ask for ‘independence’. Just a more than a decade ago, when pakistan was peaceful and proud member of the globe, you IOK kashmiris were flying pakstani flags in srinagar. Now that our image is battered,economy in shambles and mayhem all around, you dont want to be part of us? Shame on you! You should be grateful and steadfast in your commitments as brothers, not run away/backstabb during our bad time!! Things for us will eventually turn around with good leadership.

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  • jssidhoo
    Jun 12, 2012 - 9:51AM

    @LionOfPunjab: It is always the economy

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  • 999
    Jun 12, 2012 - 3:38PM

    Its all well and good talking about freedom but being a land locked country Kashmir will be dependent on India, Pakistan and China to some extent and will not be able to remain actually independent. J&K will still be supplied from the Indian side and POK from the Pakistani side. If either country decides to stop supplying fuel or food Kashmir will come to a standstill, so independence or no independence Kashmir will always need India and Pakistan to survive. The only solution is to make the LOC an international border and open it up slowly once things settledown in Pakistan (which will take about 20 years atleast)

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