Demonstrators from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, protesting against India’s decision to abrogate special status for the part of Jammu and Kashmir it controls, were stopped on Sunday from marching towards the Line of Control with India, PTI reported. The protestors, comprised of mostly youngsters, marched from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s capital city of Muzaffarabad to the town of Garhi Dupatta on Saturday and had stayed overnight.
The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, which organised the protest, said they would try to convince officials to allow them to go up to Chakothi, a village three km from the Line of Control. “I hope they will allow us [to] carry on our peaceful march to the town of Chakothi,” local JKLF leader Rafiq Dar said. “Our march is peaceful and we do not want any kind of confrontation.”
The protestors were stopped near Jiskool where the authorities had placed containers, barbed wires, mounds of earth, and electricity poles to deter them from advancing further, Dawn reported. Dar said the protestors would wait until Monday and then continue a sit-in if the blockade was not removed.
Participants shared video footage of them being welcomed by locals, who gave the marchers food, fruits, juices and water. As they approached Chinari village, the JKLF Spokesperson said that they knew the road was blocked. “And the place where the containers have been laid is narrow with steep mountains and river [Jhelum] on the right and left, respectively,” he said. “We don’t want even a single participant to suffer any harm there.”
Divisional Commissioner Chaudhry Imtiaz said they had told the organisers that there was a serious threat of shelling from the Indian side, Dawn reported. “The Indians would not only target the marchers but also the entire civilian population in this area, something they have never hesitated from in the past,” Imtiaz claimed.
The official added that they would primarily focus on protecting the lives of the people and would therefore only allow them to reach Jiskool.
Earlier on Sunday, the marchers began their protest on motorbikes and other vehicles, chanting pro-Kashmir and anti-India slogans. On Saturday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned the marchers against crossing the Line of Control, in a tweet. However, the protestors rejected this appeal.
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.
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