Thousands of protestors from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir marched towards the Line of Control on Saturday and Sunday, to demonstrate against India’s decision to abrogate special status for the part of Jammu and Kashmir it controls, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Dawn reported. The march was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
The protestors, mostly youngsters, marched from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, to the town of Garhi Dupatta, and stayed overnight. They resumed their march on Sunday morning.
The marchers began their protest on motorbikes and other vehicles, chanting pro-Kashmir and anti-India slogans. “Kashmir banega khudmukhtar [Kashmir will become an independent state],” the protestors chanted. They held posters of militant Maqbool Butt, former JKLF Chairperson Amanullah Khan and current Chairperson Yasin Malik.
“UN: Kashmir seeks your urgent attention,” another poster read. A third one read: “UN take over the control of entire state of Jammu and Kashmir to hold a plebiscite therein.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had last month called for a march to the Line of Control to protest against India’s decision to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir. Khan had also criticised the Indian government at the United Nations General Assembly, asking the world body to urgently ask India to end the curfew in Kashmir. The Pakistan prime minister also compared the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.
Mohammad Rafiq Dar, central spokesperson for the JKLF, told Dawn on Saturday that the UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan had contacted the organisation earlier to ascertain its stance on the Kashmir matter. “Apart from apprising the UN observers of the objectives of the peaceful march, we reiterated our organisation’s demand to the UN to send peacekeeping forces to take control of entire state and create an atmosphere conducive to a UN-sponsored referendum,” he said.
Early on Saturday, Imran Khan had warned the marchers against crossing the Line of Control, in a tweet. However, the protestors rejected this appeal. “We reject the notions of both countries; of India that we are holding this march at the behest of Pakistan, and of Pakistan that we are playing into the hands of India,” Dar said. “It is our own indigenous initiative and neither do we need certificates from nor are we agents of any of the two countries.”
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