MUZAFFARABAD: Hundreds of British Kashmiris and Pakistanis took to the streets to condemn the continuous lockdown of 9 million people in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) in Manchester outside the Conservative Party conference on Sunday.
Member of European Parliament (MEP) Julie Ward, British Member of Parliament (MP) Afzal Khan and Tehreek-e-Kashmir (TeK) Europe and United Kingdom (UK) Presidents Muhammad Ghalib and Fahim Kayani were also present on the occasion.
The Freedom March for IOJ&K started at All Saints Park and ended at the Manchester Arena, with women, children and the elderly participating in it despite heavy rain. A British Kashmiris’ March was also held alongside an Anti-austerity March organised by the People's Assembly. For the first time in UK history, the local British community marched alongside the Kashmiris in the Freedom March.
Speaking on the occasion, MEP Julie Ward called on the world community to come forward and pressure India into stopping its rising human rights violations in IOJ&K, adding that, in this era of technology, the territory’s people had no access to the telephone or internet. She lamented the treatment being meted out to Kashmiris by the world’s largest democracy which she called unfortunate and condemnable.
“Political leaders and human rights activists are in jail with no one knowing about their whereabouts. These are the worst kinds of human rights violations being committed by Indian occupational forces in Kashmir”, MEP Ward added.
Afzal Khan MP said that Kashmiris had a long history of sacrifices and that it was now time for the world to raise its voice for the basic rights of IOJ&K’s people, adding that Kashmiris had suffered greatly during their political and rights struggle which he termed genuine and as per the spirit of United Nations (UN) resolutions.
“I appeal to the world community to come forward and take action against the illegal steps taken by the Indian government in IOJ&K that are intended to change its demography. Such acts will put the peace and security of the South Asia region at stake”, MP Khan added.
TeK UK President Fahim Kayani bemoaned the fact that 60 days had passed and there was no food, milk or other essential commodities available in IOJ&K.
“Patients are facing acute shortages of medicines and all schools and colleges in the area are closed since the August 5 abrogation of IOJ&K’s special status”, he lamented.
Kayani further said that more than 13,000 of the territory’s people had been arrested by the Indian Army and no one knew about their whereabouts, adding that the parents of detained youth were running from pillar to post to locate them.
Addressing the protesters, TeK Europe President Muhammad Ghalib said Kashmiris had been caged by the Indian government in order to silence them. But he said they would never surrender and had decided to achieve their goal of self-determination.
He also appealed to the United Nations (UN) to take note of the rising IOJ&K human rights violations and implement the seven-decades-old resolutions passed by the world community under the banner of the UN.