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November 3, 2019

Merkel terms IOK situation not good

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November 3, 2019

NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called out India on the ongoing situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), saying the current situation in Kashmir is not good and is unsustainable, ‘The Hindu’ reported on Friday.

The German leader, while voicing concern for the people of IOK, said that the lockdown of the disputed region cannot be supported for long.

Her comments came hours after New Delhi and Berlin agreed to work on bilateral and multilateral platforms on counter-terrorism and extremism.

"The situation now for the people [in Kashmir] is not good and not sustainable. This has to be improved for sure," said Merkel to a group of German journalists who travelled to New Delhi for the visit.

Indian officials say that developments in IOK are not on the agenda of her visit. However, the publication reported that officials have said that the German leader was briefed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his plans regarding IOK during a formal dinner.

Merkel is on a three-day visit and has sealed 17 MoUs and five Joint Declarations of Intent covering a wide range of issues including agriculture, education, marine science and heritage conservation.

Merkel, who is in India along with several cabinet colleagues and a business delegation, began talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on trade, investment, regional security and climate change. A free trade pact with India has been a long-pending demand from Germany which is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. The pact has been in discussion for years.

“We need a new attempt for an EU-Indian FTA. We were already close once,” Merkel said in New Delhi, adding that she held an intensive discussion about the FTA with Modi.

Merkel said Germany will spend one billion euros ($1.12 billion) in the next five years on green urban mobility projects conceived under the new German-Indian partnership.

German funds will be used to finance several environment-friendly projects such as the introduction of electric buses to replace diesel ones used for public transport in urban centres.

Meanwhile the sufferings of millions of people living in Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu region continue unabated due to strict military siege imposed by India.

According to Kashmir Media Service, normal life remains badly affected on the 90th straight day, today, in the Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu due to unrelenting restrictions under section 144 and gag on internet and prepaid cellular services.

The occupation authorities despite all-out efforts have failed to engineer normalcy in occupied Kashmir as people continue to observe shutdown to show their resentment against India’s recent actions in the territory.

Barring a few hours in the morning and evening, shops and business establishments remain closed most of the time. Public transport is off the roads while students are not attending schools and colleges except those who have to appear in the examinations for 10th and 12th classes.

Meanwhile, at least three photojournalists said that they were beaten up by Indian police personnel when they were covering anti-India demonstrations in downtown Srinagar.

Several other photo and video journalists, including a woman, said that police personnel chased and verbally abused them. One of the journalists said the police repeatedly asked him why he was taking pictures of the demonstrations. Noted Indian author Arundhati Roy and Editor of The Wire, Siddharth Varadarajan, addressing during Mela Ghadri Babeyan Da in Jalandhar city of Indian Punjab, expressed serious concern over the prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir and stressed the need for intellectuals to speak up.

Roy said, I am very ashamed about Kashmir. I can’t say Mera Bharat Mahaan. The silence on Kashmir is deafening. It’s our fight too.

According to another report thousands of Kashmiris and Sikhs took to the street of Geneva to protest against the Indian forces crackdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Punjab.

Sikhs and Kashmiris in solidarity with each other and other minorities in India marched from Wilson place to United Nation Human Rights Council offices in Geneva where the protest rally converted into a large gathering at the Broken Chair monument in front of the UN office.

Protestors could be seen carrying banners and placards with slogans such as stop genocide of Sikhs and Kashmiris, Referendum 2020 for the independence of Khalistan and Indian army quit Kashmir.

The Sikh and Kashmiri leaders delivered speeches against India and called for the United Nations to intervene and fulfill its legal obligation to stop torture, the kidnapping of political human rights activists and mass disappearances.

Kashmiri activists who travelled all the way from US to participate in the rally told Geo News that the world has to protect minorities in India from Hindutwa Fascist regime.

The UN has to implement its own resolution regarding the right to self-determination and human rights. President of ‘Sikhs for Justice Organisation’ Parmeet Singh Parma stressed that Indian Punjabis simply cannot live in India anymore.

Along with Sikhs for Justice Kashmir Movement Italy, Kashmir Council EU, Kashmir Peace Forum and Kashmir Freedom Movement also participated in the protest rally.

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