Sultan M Hali
KASHMIR Solidarity Day is observed every year on February 05 since 1990 to express Pakistan’s support of and unity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, the nationalists’ efforts to separate from India, and to pay homage to Kashmiris who have laid down their lives in the conflict. Kashmiris have faced brutal oppression for over a century. Initially at the hands of the Dogra Raj; later, after 1947 Indian forces illegally occupied Kashmir and have continued their reign of terror. The struggle gained momentum in 1989 when the Kashmiris of the IoK took up arms to escape from the clutches of Indian tyranny. The just movement was suppressed by the use of brute force by India. Since July 8, 2016, when popular Kashmiri youth leader Muzaffar Wani was martyred, unarmed Kashmiri youth took to the streets in protest. Indian forces have retaliated by firing on the protesters with pellet guns. At least 515 Kashmiris have been martyred since then.
According to data released by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service on Kashmir Solidarity Day 2018, since July 2016, at least 20,935 including women and children were injured. The use of pellet guns also led to 11,864 youth losing their eyesight. 65,815 residential houses, shops and other structures were damaged by Indian forces. 11,000 people including 757 women were molested during this period. Since January 1989 till February 5, 2018, at least 94,907 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian forces. After Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister, Indian forces in IOK have launched a reign of terror to subjugate the Kashmiris. To deter Pakistan from extending even moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris, excessive shelling across the Line of Control has taken a huge toll of innocent human lives while Indian machinations to support terror attacks in Pakistan have reached an unprecedented high.
Under these trying conditions, Kashmir Solidarity Day 2018 held great importance. Numerous events were organized internationally to express solidarity with the Kashmiris of IOK and highlight Indian brutality. Kashmiri, American and Pakistani community organized a Free Indian Occupied Kashmir rally on January 30, 2018. A Large numbers of Kashmiri & Pakistani Americans participated in the rally, which started from Brookfield Plaza Springfield, Virginia after speeches by prominent community leaders. The rally comprised three groups of 10-12 cabs and private vehicles bearing # Free Indian Occupied Kashmir advertisements on Top and Posters/ logos on sides and back.
These three groups of Free Indian Occupied Kashmir rally protested on prominent roads and Avenues of Virginia and Washington DC including Arlington Memorial Bridge, Capitol Hills, Washington Monument, White House, Dupont Circle and Massachusetts Ave (Embassies road) and in front of Indian Embassy at Massachusetts Ave Washington DC. In London also, Kashmiri Diaspora held protest demonstrations on India’s Republic Day, and observed Kashmir Solidarity Day with due reverence. This year a new factor was added to the protests, as Sikhs, and people from Nagaland and other minorities that are subjected to oppression joined the protest demonstrations and rallies to expose the true face of so-called secular India.
Pakistani-origin British MP Lord Nazir Ahmed led the protest demonstration in London; Sikh Khalistanis, residents of Nagaland and Manipur and minorities also joined the protest. Billboard vans with messages such as “India Leave Kashmir: Free Kashmir”, “Khalistan Zindabad” and “70 Years of Indian Brutality” were seen in London during the demonstrations. President of the Council of Khalistan Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, said the international community – including the Commonwealth – should hold Narendra Modi responsible for his country’s despicable record on human rights. “As a country that formally rejects the right of self-determination (enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights), the role of responsible international bodies was to punish, not, reward India,” he said, adding that the conflicts arising from that illegal occupation had led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold misery.
Dr Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch (UK) said: “India must return the sovereign status of the shackled deserving nations Vis-à-vis the Kashmiris, Khalistanis and other nationalities like people of Nagaland.” The rallies on Indian Republic Day as well as Kashmir Solidarity Day tried to tell the world about India’s atrocities on the people of Kashmir and to appeal to the conscience of international community to wean off the apathy and force India to implement UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the screening of an 80-minute long movie on the freedom struggle of Kashmiris in Mashhad, Iran. The movie screening was held in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day observed by the Pakistani government to highlight the issues of human rights violations in IOK by the Indian security forces to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris for self-determination.
In order to divert international opinion from its own brutality in IOK, India is machinating to brew trouble in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan. Indian secret agents have been trying to infiltrate into Balochistan so that some misled youth can be instigated to create insurgency, chaos and mayhem through terror attacks. India has also created terrorist training cells in Afghanistan where Baloch and other disgruntled youth are motivated to create problems for Pakistan. These youth are trained in subversion, armed with weapons and launched into Pakistan to destabilise the law and order situation. It has become imperative to expose the true visage of India by internationalizing its brutalities against the Kashmiris and heinous plots against its neighbours.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.
Sultan M Hali