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September 4, 2019

Thousands march in London against IHK lockdown

September 4, 2019

LONDON: Thousands, mostly Kashmiris, marched here in Britain’s capital to show solidarity with the oppressed people of occupied Kashmir as the curfew and media and communication blackout in the valley entered the 30th consecutive day.

By all counts, the #KashmirFreedomMarch rally on Tuesday was bigger than the massive protest on August 15 when nearly 15,000 had gathered outside Indian High Commission after Narendra Modi’s government revoked Article 370.

The protesters arrived on public and private buses from all over the United Kingdom and started gathering at 12 noon at the Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster. The organisers were expecting the number of participants to be at around two thousand but for the second expectations were defied when men, women and young and old came on their own for the march.

The solidarity march started from London’s Parliament Square and proceeded to the Indian High Commission to express solidarity with oppressed folks in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region and demand India to lift curfew and end the human rights violations. The call for Kashmir march was generated by Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and supported by all Kashmiri and Pakistani groups including Kashmir chapters of PTI, PML-N, PPP, JI and a number of Kashmiri nationalist and human rights groups — all united in anger and hatred against Indian government, BJP, RSS and Narendra Modi. As part of the code of conduct, no political leader was allowed to make speeches. No flags of any political party were allowed and Kashmiri flags were visible all around. Chants of “We want freedom”; “Freedom is right of Kashmir”; “India leave Kashmir”; “Terrorist, terrorist - Modi is a terrorist”; “Save Kashmir from BJP, RSS” and “Kashmiris need justice” rang out in the crowd, with protesters also calling out international organisations for not doing enough to free Kashmiris from India’s violence. The protesters carried cards equating Modi with Hitler and Nazi ideology.

Speaking to Geo News, the protesters said that they had come out to tell the oppressed people of Kashmir that they were not alone in their struggle against India. They said that Modi regime has enforced a crippling lockdown in the occupied region since revoking its special status.

After the marchers arrived at the Indian High Commission, dozens of police officers cordoned off the path outside India House from all sides. Protesters threw shoes, eggs and water bottles at the Indian flag to express their anger at the actions of the Indian government against the people of Kashmir who are currently cut off from the rest of the world due to clampdown. The protesters stayed there for more than two hours and then dispersed off peacefully.

The Indian government imposed a strict lockdown and communications blackout in occupied Kashmir just before it repealed Article 370 of its constitution on August 5. The lockdown and communications blackout is still in place after one month but the Indian government has claimed of having eased some restrictions — a claim rejected by independent observers and international media.

Britain is home to more than one million Kashmiris most of whom originate from Azad Kashmir and are known for relentlessly campaigning for freedom of Kashmir. At the Tuesday’s protest as well as protest on August15, most of the people who attended anti-India protests have never been seen before at any protest. It is understood that Article 370 revocation turned around the issue of Kashmir in terms of internationalising the issue as gory details of Indian oppression of Kashmiris have made their way into western media.