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August 14, 2019

Imran’s AJK speech aimed at solidarity with Kashmiris

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August 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly today in solidarity with Kashmiris across the Line of Control (LoC) as Pakistan termed the unprecedented lockdown in the disputed territory “collective punishment on an industrial scale”.

According to a PM Office press release, the Prime Minister will arrive in Muzaffarabad on Independence Day. The government had decided to observe August 14 in solidarity with the brave Kashmiris of the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJ&K) and their just struggle for right to self-determination.

The Indian independence day, August 15, will be observed as ‘Black Day’ against the ongoing atrocities, blatant human rights violations and imposition of curfew in the occupied territory after illegally scrapping the special status of the disputed valley in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Last week, India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government stripped the disputed territory of its special autonomy. Occupied Kashmir has since faced strict curfew and an unprecedented security lockdown as a complete communications blackout continued for the ninth day on Tuesday.

Officials eased restrictions earlier on Sunday but imposed them again on Monday afternoon amid a tense atmosphere in the main city of Srinagar. Indian troops clamped tight restrictions on mosques across the valley for Eid-ul-Azha, fearing anti-government protests. Pakistan has condemned the Indian moves as a “curtailment of religious freedom”. In a statement on Tuesday, the Foreign Office said India has curtailed religious freedom of millions of Kashmiris on the important festival of Eid-ul-Azha.

He said restrictions and curtailment of this fundamental religious freedom of millions of Kashmiri Muslims constitutes a serious violation of applicable international human rights law, to which India is a party.

Dr Faisal said the occupied valley has been turned into a massive military prison and Kashmiris were prevented from offering the traditional prayers at Srinagar’s historical Jama Masjid.

He said complete communications blockade of telephone; landline and cellular and internet services for over a week, also deprived the Kashmiris from contacting their families and loved ones on this festive occasion.

He said these measures amount to “collective punishment on an industrial scale” and violate all principles and precepts of human rights and humanitarian law.The unprecedented security crackdown forced most people in the disputed region to stay indoors on the Islamic holy day. Some protesters demonstrated against the Indian government’s surprise revocation of Muslim-majority Kashmir’s special status last week.

The streets were deserted, with authorities not allowing any large groups to gather to avoid anti-India protests. “Our hearts are on fire,” said Habibullah Bhat, 75, who said he came to offer prayers despite his failing health. “India has thrown us into the dark ages, but God is on our side and our resistance will win.”

Hundreds of worshippers gathered on a street in a neighbourhood in Srinagar after the prayers and chanted “We want freedom” and “Go India, Go back”, witnesses said. Officials claimed the protest ended peacefully.

Kashmir police said in a tweet that Eid festival prayers “concluded peacefully in various parts of the (Kashmir) Valley. No untoward incident reported so far”. Independent verification of events in the region was difficult because of the communications shutdown.

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