Holding placards and banners, rival Kashmiri groups staged protests outside the United Nations on Friday afternoon during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the plenary session of the UN General Assembly.
The two groups — Kashmiri American Council, a predominantly Muslim body that demands the right of Kashmiris to self-determination under the UN Security Resolutions, and the Indo American Kashmir Forum, a predominantly Hindu outfit that highlights the plight of Pandits because of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Pakistan-aided terrorists in the state — staged the protests side by side, separated only by waist length iron barricades set up by the police.
While the KAC raised slogans against the Indian government for alleged draconian laws that imprison people who ‘resist Indian occupation,’ the IAKF blamed the Pakistani government for allegedly promoting global Islamic terrorism.
Traditionally, KAC has held protest demonstrations outside the world body every year during India’s address to the UNGA, but this was the first time IAKF held the protest as well.
“Every year, the police decline to give permission for any protests during the UNGA because there are always too many protesters during UNGA and only those who had applied early for permission to stage demonstrations, get to hold that. This year, we made it a point to prepare early to get the permission,” Lalit Kaul, president of IAKF, told rediff.com.
Both the groups handed memoranda to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging the world body’s intervention in solving the crisis.
KAC said that there must be an immediate and complete cessation of the “military and paramilitary action by Indian forces against the people of Jammu & Kashmir”.
The organisation demanded that all bunkers, watch towers and barricades set up by the military and paramilitary forces in towns and villages must be immediately dismantled and the right of peaceful association, assembly and demonstration should be restored to the people.
The KAC memorandum was signed by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Shaheen Bhat, Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir, Raja Muzzaafar, Aftab Shah and Hafiz Muhammad Sabir, among others.
“The Kashmir question is one of the oldest unresolved international problems in the world. The experience of nearly six decades has shown that it will not go away and that an effort is urgently required to resolve it on a durable basis,” Fai said.
In its memorandum, the IAKF stated that even today the abuse of human rights of Kashmiri Hindus by the Islamic terrorists in the valley continues.
It urged the UN Secretary General to direct the Indian government to restore Kashmiri Hindus’ political and economic rights that would give them equal status, rather than a second class citizenship in their native land.
“We would continue our fight for our rights, whether the world body or the Indian government take any action or not. We will keep on fighting,” Kaul told rediff.com.