Kashmiris living on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and across the world marked the third anniversary of India’s unlawful action of revoking the special status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir as “Exploitation [of Kashmir] Day” by holding anti-India rallies and demonstrations.
The main event of the day in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was a public meeting and an emotionally charged rally in state capital Muzaffarabad. Both events were organised by Pasban-e-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir (PHJK), an organisation of post-1989 migrants from occupied Kashmir led by Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, which has always been at the forefront of anti-India activities in different parts of the liberated territory.
The rally started from Burhan Wani Chowk where a public meeting was held and concluded at the office of the UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) near Domel, the confluence of rivers Neelum and Jhelum.
From Burhan Wani Chowk to Garhi Pan Chowk — a distance of some 500 metres — AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, his predecessor from the PML-N, Raja Farooq Haider, and some cabinet members were also part of it.
Demonstrators chant protests at a rally in Azad Kashmir on August 5.—Photo provided by author
Participants kept on vociferously chanting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans as they paraded through the main thoroughfare. Many of them were also carrying AJK and Pakistan flags and placards and banners inscribed with similar slogans.
Earlier, speaking at the public meeting, Prime Minister Ilyas maintained that India’s August 5, 2019 move was a “deep-rooted conspiracy” aimed at eroding the special identity, culture and traditions of the occupied territory and changing its demography to turn the majority Muslim population into a minority.
He pointed out that since the renovation of Article 35-A more than 4 million non-Kashmiris had been issued domiciles in sheer violation of the UN Security Council resolutions as well as international laws and covenants.
AJK Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas speaking at an event on August 5.—Photo provided by author
The international community and the UN must take serious notice of these “brazen violations and rein in India to prove their much-trumpeted commitment to human rights, justice and freedom from occupation”, he stressed.
PHJK chief Ghazali noted that notwithstanding the worst ever oppression Kashmiris were determined to pursue their cause for which they have offered matchless sacrifices.
He asked the Indian government to shun belligerence and accept the stark reality that the festering Kashmir issue could only be addressed by giving Kashmiris their right to self-determination and not by employing brute force against them.
Condemning India’s arbitrary actions, Haider expressed hopes that “the people of Pakistan who have consistently supported our just cause over the past 75 years will not let any government of theirs take any such step that betrays our struggle and sacrifices”.
Haider also made it clear that Kashmiris would never compromise on their identity and integrity.
“Any attempt running counter to it, either from Islamabad or from New Delhi, will meet unflagging resistance. We will not let our sacrifices go in vain,” he said.
Prominent among others who spoke on the occasion were cabinet members Khawaja Farooq Ahmed, Chaudhry Muhammad Rasheed and Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim, chief secretary Dr Usman Chachar and PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir.
Outside the UNMOGIP office, a large Indian flag was torched to condemn an ongoing campaign in occupied Kashmir, forcing people to hoist tricolour at their homes, offices and educational institutions.
Later, a 5-member PHJK delegation presented a memorandum to UN observers, calling upon the UN chief to nullify all unlawful Indian actions in occupied Kashmir and hold a plebiscite in the internationally acknowledged disputed region to ensure durable peace in South Asia.
Earlier, at 9am, a one-minute silence was observed to pay tributes to the valiant Kashmiris, followed by special prayers for the success of the freedom movement.