Rallies held around the globe in solidarity with Kashmir

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Staff Report/ Reuters

Islamabad/ LONDON

In protest against India’s unilateral action to scrap the special status of occupied Kashmir, Black Day was observed on Thursday in Pakistan, on both sides of the Line of Control and around the world.

In this regard, rallies were held all around the world especially across Pakistan and special events were also conducted expressing solidarity with Kashmiris.

Thousands of people, many waving Pakistani and Kashmiri flags, protested outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday in support of the people of Occupied Kashmir.

India’s decision to revoke special status of the disputed Himalayan region, along with a communications blackout and curbs on movement, caused fury in Pakistan, which cut trade and transport links and expelled India’s envoy in retaliation.

In London, protesters carried banners saying “Kashmir is Burning”, “Free Kashmir” and “Modi: Make Tea Not War”, according to a Reuters reporter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an Independence Day speech on Thursday that spotlighted his decision to remove the special rights of Occupied Kashmir among the bold moves of his second term.

Many of the London protesters had come to the capital from other English cities on specially chartered buses.

“We want to show our solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers,” said Amin Tahir, a British pensioner of Kashmiri origin who came from Birmingham on one of the coaches.

“Since 1947 Kashmir has been struggling to be free from India. Now Modi has changed the law by force to stop Kashmir’s autonomy,” he added.

Police were keeping a small counter-demonstration apart from the main protest as on the other side, Indian supporters chanted pro-India slogans.

Meantime, Kashmir Council Europe (KC-EU) organized a protest demonstration to mark the “Black Day” in front of Indian Embassy in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.

A large number of people from all walks of life including Kashmiris, Pakistanis and representatives of different organizations based in Belgium and other EU countries attended the demonstration.

Participants of the protest gathering raised slogan against Indian occupation of Kashmir and brutalities committed by the occupation forces in IOK. It was a unique scene that at the same Indians were inside the embassy in order to celebrate their Independence Day, while at the same time, a huge number of Kashmiris and their sympathizers were protesting against anti-Kashmiris behavior of Indian authorities in front of the embassy.

During the protest, a memorandum addressing the Indian regime was also presented to Indian embassy in Brussels.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf took out a rally in the capital in connection with the Black Day .

Party leaders including Asad Umar and Senator Faisal Javed were part of the rally, where a majority of the participants wore black.

“Pakistan armed forces will not sit back while Kashmiris are being persecuted,” Umar said while addressing the rally. “If the world does not want a third great war to take place and peace to be disrupted, this is the best chance” to raise its voice against Indian actions in occupied Kashmir, he added.

He revealed that PTI leaders would submit a resolution in this regard at the Indian High Commission in the capital.

The country’s largely symbolic Black Day comes amid growing concern in Islamabad at the lack of international response to India’s moves in occupied Kashmir.

Some newspaper issues on Thursday carried black borders and politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, replaced their social media pictures with black squares. Flags on government buildings flew at half-mast.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, in a conversation with the media at Peshawar Press Club, also condemned India’s Hindu nationalist government and said that people across the world who believe that residents of occupied Kashmir are being persecuted were observing Aug 15 as Black Day.

The SAPM said that expressing solidarity with Kashmiris was in line with Prime Minister Imran’s vision.

“Pakistan’s independence celebration is incomplete until Kashmir is free,” she said. “The partition of India will remain incomplete until the region is free.”

She further said that the prime minister had taken a stand for oppressed Kashmiris on international forums and as a result, the United Nations Security Council had called a session to discuss the Kashmir dispute for the first time in 50 years.

Awan also highlighted Prime Minister Imran’s address in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) assembly yesterday, where he had called out Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and warned that Pakistan will respond to “every brick with a stone”.

She said that the Hindu supremacist ideology followed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — which is believed to be the parent group of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — had made it hard for minorities to survive in India.

“Today, there is no place for minorities in India, be it Muslims, Sikhs or any other group.”

The government’s chief spokesperson lauded journalists at the Peshawar Press Club for “echoing the nation” and expressing solidarity with Kashmiris.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference Azad Jammu and Kashmir (APHC-AJK) chapter organised a protest demonstration outside the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

Addressing on the occasion, the APHC-AJK leaders said Kashmir dispute is not a territorial or bilateral dispute between Pakistan and India. They said it is an international dispute acknowledged by the UN through its resolutions accepted by the two countries and it pertains to the life of millions of Kashmiris. They termed the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution by India as a deep conspiracy and vowed that the Kashmiris will resist this ploy at every level.

In Multan, a procession was taken out by the staff of Nishter hospital in which the protestors wore chains to protest against the Indian atrocities against Kashmiris.

A big rally arranged by district administration Multan will be taken out from the residence of Chief Whip in National Assembly Malik Muhammad Aamir Dogar which will be culminated at Chowk Ghanta Ghar.

In Sindh, provincial government has also chalked out several programs including rallies to demonstrate solidarity with the Kashmiri people on Indian Independence Day as the Black Day.

In Khyber Pukhtunkhaw, a rally was taken out in Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram district today.

Addressing the rally, the speakers asked the United Nations and other international organizations to put pressure on India to stop massive human rights violations in the occupied territory.

In Balochistan, Black flags have been hoisted at almost all the government, public buildings and vehicles while the people tied black ribbons on their arms.

In Muzaffarabad, a rally was also taken out to observe Indian Independence Day as Black Day.

Participants of the protest rallies wore black-bands around their arms as a sign of hatred against India. Black flags were also hoisted at houses, shops and other public spots to condemn Indian nefarious designs against people of Occupied Kashmir.