Mobile billboard trucks in Washington and New York lighted up messages demanding right to self-determination in Kashmir

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The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), a Washington-based advocacy body, displayed razor-sharp messages on mobile billboard trucks in Washington & New York, calling on the United Nations to fulfill its pledge towards the people of Jammu & Kashmir – right to self-determination.

The electronic screens on the mobile digital trucks carried messages such as: “UN obligated to implement its resolutions on Kashmir;” “Land grab operation in Kashmir is economic terrorism”; “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”; ”Stop Indian military & demographic terrorism in Kashmir”; “Indian occupied Kashmir: Most densely militarized settler colony”; “Hold India accountable for war crimes in Kashmir”; etc.

“Digital advertising trucks are considered to be the most effective way to spread a message as the brightly lit words on the screens catch attention of the people walking on the streets and those coming in and out of government and commercial buildings,” said Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice.”

The route of digital truck in Washington included: All federal buildings, The Washington Monument; The White House; foreign embassies, various Museums; Lincoln Memorial; the Indian Embassy; the World Bank and IMF. And in New York, The United Nations headquarters, offices of various UN Missions, Freedom Tower, Indian Mission; Times Square, etc.

Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, Chairman, Kashmir Diaspora Coalition (KDC) and President, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said we stand in solidarity with Kashmiris across the globe in protests and rallies today on the 74th year of Kashmir’s Right to Self-Determination Day, demanding implementation of the resolution that was adopted on January 5, 1949. That resolution mandates a free and unfettered plebiscite in Kashmir. To highlight and draw attention of the freedom-loving people particularly in the United States, WKAF rented Digital Mobile Billboard Trucks in New York and Washington DC. The denial of the right to self-determination, Dr. Mir added, has brought both India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

“Our objective was to target the policy makers in Washington and New York as well as the passersby to let them know that crimes against humanity are being committed in the so-called largest democracy – India – and that the Biden Administration is giving preferential treatment to India because of its commercial interests,” Dr. Mir said.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai said that it was on January 5, 1949, when the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) worked out the concrete terms of settlement in close and continuous consultation with both India and Pakistan. As both governments formally signified their acceptance of the commission’s proposals, they constituted an international agreement as binding as a treaty. A ceasefire was immediately enforced. The Commission then started negotiations to draw up a plan for the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistan armies from the State in a manner and sequence that would not cause disadvantage to either side or imperil the freedom of the plebiscite.

Progress towards a solution was, however, blocked, Dr. Fai added, by India’s refusal to accept that the withdrawal of forces on the two sides should be balanced and synchronized. Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite.

Dr. Fai suggested, till India and Pakistan are persuaded to initiate peace negotiations with the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, in the interim, several measures should be taken to ease the misery and tensions of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Human rights organizations should be given greater access. India’s occupation forces should be thinned. All political prisoners should be released. Emergency laws which give India’ army immunity for human rights crimes should be repealed. Domicile law which is designed to change the demography of Kashmir should be revoked.

Dr. Imtiaz Khan, Professor at George Washington University Medical Center said, “Today on January 5, 2023, people of Indian occupied Kashmir commemorate the passing of UN resolution on this date in the year 1949. In this resolution it was agreed upon that the question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Subsequently, UN Security Council reiterated the right of self-determination of Kashmiris in various resolutions, including of 1951 and 1957. An inordinate delay in implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir, repeated farcical sham elections in the State as well as the wave of democracy, which swept the globe in 1980s, brought the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir on the streets, agitating for their right of self-determination.

Dr. Imtiaz Khan warned that the silence of international community over this long-standing issue is heart breaking. It appears that India is being given a free hand to inflict atrocities on the people of Kashmir. It is startling to understand that this problem that has potential to snowball into a nuclear conflict in the region is not receiving any attention from international community. The silence is criminal, and outcome can be catastrophic not only to the region but entire world community. Dr. Martin Luther King very aptly remarked: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people”.

[Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai can be reached at: WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435. Or [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org]