Masood Khan condemns cowardly attack on peaceful Muharram procession in Srinagar
Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has strongly condemned the use of excessive force and brutality against peaceful participants of the Muharram procession taken out in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) wherein over 50 were seriously injured and hundreds of others were arrested. Terming this a violation of religious freedom, the President said that no such restriction was imposed during the Amarnath Yatra where hundreds of thousands of Hindus were facilitated to travel into Kashmir and practice their religious rites.
The President made these comments while addressing a web-conference on “Kashmir; New Challenges, New Hopes”, jointly organised by Tahreek-e-Kashmir UK and the Scottish Human Rights Forum. The event was also addressed by eminent speakers like Secretary General of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, British MPs Mr. Afzal Khan and Ms. Allison Thewliss, Member Scottish Parliament Mr. Anas Sarwar, Coordinator, Self Determination Council Mr. Ranjit Singh Sarai and Co-founder of Let Kashmir Decide Ms. Claire Bidwell.
In his opening remarks, the President thanked the Scottish Human Rights Forum for hosting the conference from Scotland and helping open up new avenues for the Kashmir struggle for their right to self-determination. He also expressed his deepest gratitude to Tahreek-e-Kashmir UK for their continued efforts in mobilising support for the Kashmiris’ liberation struggle by organising numerous webinars and engaging leading parliamentarians, academics, opinion makers and media personnel.
The AJK President while informing his audience of the situation in IOJK, said that into the past two days alone, 10 young Kashmiris have been martyred. He added that 8,000 Kashmiris have been forcefully disappeared after being illegally taken into custody and according to Indian officials 180 so-called militants have been killed since January this year.
“India continues to violate international humanitarian law as innocent Kashmiris are killed every day and they are then labelled as terrorists. The reality on the ground is different from the statistics the Indian government present”, he said.
President Masood Khan said that over half a million Hindus have been settled in IOJK since April this year, and the goal is to settle 2 million in the next 2 to 3 years. This policy of settler colonialism in and demographic flooding is aimed at permanently transforming the Muslim majority in IOJK into a minority, he said.
“No one imagined that we would still be facing colonialism in this century. IOJK is a colony by all definitions. Unless we resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes of the Kashmiris, the volatility will continue and not only Pakistan and India are at risk but the peace and security of the whole region is at risk”, said the President.
The AJK President said that the current Indian government advocates the doctrine of Hindutva which aims at making the whole of South Asia "pure" by eradicating all non-Hindus. “This juggernaut of Hindutva has to be stopped. India has unleashed three wars. One in IOJK, second against the non-Hindus in its own country and the third against all its neighbours”, he said.
Masood Khan said that our foremost priority right now must be to stop the human rights violations taking place in IOJK and help protect the lives of the Kashmiris who are being mercilessly killed every day.
President Masood Khan thanked the major parliaments of the world, leading lawmakers, academics and media outlets for effectively highlighting the Kashmir issue. He added that we must continue with this momentum to achieve critical mass and critical pitch to make this struggle into a worldwide movement. “This is our Vietnam moment, our moment to make this just struggle of the Kashmiris into a global action which would help peacefully resolve this dispute”, he said.
The President said that Kashmiris have laboured hard for their liberty and self-determination and they will not capitulate or be intimidated by India’s aggression. Our outreach, he said, will continue and we will further our cause by creating new alliances and networks. The AJK government is right now focusing on a political and diplomatic campaign where we have received renewed attention from international interlocutor and organisations, he said. He urged the participants to help create awareness in the UK at the grass-root level and encourage the people to reach out to their representatives.
Touched by the remarks of various speakers on not losing hope and continuing with our struggle, the President said that indeed hope is the fuel for this struggle.
Ms. Allison Thewliss MP acknowledged the Kashmiris' exclusive right to self-determination and also condemned the attack of the Indian forces on the peaceful Muharram procession. She said that the UK has to play a more proactive role in the resolution of these issues.
Mr. Afzal Khan MP laid down a very concise plan of action when asked to talk about the role of the diaspora community. He said that we need to widen our reach, unite and do away with our internal differences, simplify the message by highlighting the human rights violations, and finally, use multiple communication platforms to reach out to a wider audience.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai strongly condemned the change of demography in IOJK terming it a violation of international law. He said that it is unfortunate that India continues to exploit its economic and strategic importance, thereby unjustly enjoying immunity from any prosecution.