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World

January 26, 2020

India's Republic Day celebrations marred as thousands protest in London

World

Sun, Jan 26, 2020

LONDON: Thousands of Sikhs and Kashmiris gathered outside India High Commission here in central London for a protest to observe India’s Republic Day as “Black Day”.

The Rise for Kashmir protest call was given by Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK, World Sikh Parliament. Members of various Kashmiri and Sikh organisations including Sikh Federation UK also attended the protest to condemn Indian constitution as a racist and discriminatory piece of work which disfranchises Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others.

The protest was held to coincide with Republic Day - an Indian public holiday which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on January 26 1950.

The protestors were carrying banners which read: State terrorism must be stopped in Kashmir; Modi is a killer and murderer; Kashmir is UN’s unfinished agenda; Modi is a terrorist; We want Khalistan; Stop killing in Kashmir; India butcher army leave Kashmir; Restore communication in Kashmir; India stop genocide in Kashmir; We will establish Khalistan; Voting for Punjab independence is our legal right; End Indian occupation; We say no to Indian brutality in Kashmir; and Kashmiris are human without human rights.

Some participants wearing t-shirts reading: I am Kashmir, I want freedom; Khalistan; Khalistan Referendum 2020; Justice for Sikhs. The protestors had come from various cities of the UK on coaches and cars to show support for the besieged people of Kashmir on a cold and rainy day. The turnout at the protest was quite impressive in comparison to usual such protests.

The participants said they had come to protest outside Indian High Commission against Indian oppression in Kashmir. They said that for over 150 days Indian government has locked more than eight million people in prison like conditions, denying basic human rights to Kashmiris, after revoking Article 275 and denying every kind of freedom to them. They said that Narendra Modi government is working on a Hindutva agenda to militarise the whole society against Muslims and other minorities in the name of Hindu religion. They said that Modi government has violated international laws in Kashmir without any care in the world.

Faheem Kayani, one of the protest organisers, said India has been turned into a fascist state by Modi and his extremist RSS supporters. He said the people of Kashmir were paying heavy price for what Modi was doing in Kashmir. He said Indiam government tried its best to get the protest banned in London but failed.

Kayani said: “We have gathered here to draw the international community's attention towards New Delhi's human rights violation in the occupied valley.”

Amjad Abbasi said it was shameful that Indian government tried to link peaceful protest with extremism. “The people of Kashmir are fighting a government that’s involved in genocide. This govt doesn’t want the world to know how intolerant and biased it is. The people of Kashmir are under a siege for over five months. They have been cut off from the world.”

The Indian government had sought to ban the protest by informing the British government that the protestors will attack Indian High Commission and will burn Indian constitution but the protest passed off peacefully and there was no incident of violence. The Scotland Yard reviewed requests from the Indian government and representations from the protest organisers and decided to let the protest go ahead and provided security to the protetsors.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year scrapped the special status of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) and imposed a curfew and communication blackout to suppress the dissent against the controversial move. The Republic Day has brought more miseries to the already besieged people, as Indian troops have intensified checking and frisking in various cities of the region. The Hurriyat leaders in their statements and messages said that India is not a real democratic country as it has been suppressing the Kashmiris’ voice through military might for over seven decades, Radio Pakistan reported.