London seminar discusses overall Kashmir situation, demands end ‘lockdown’

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LONDON: A seminar to discuss the human rights situation in Kashmir was held here at the Grimmon Room, House of Commons here on Tuesday (January 28). The speakers expressed their concern over lockdown going on for the last 170 days and demanded Indian Government to bring normalcy by removing all restrictions and restoring fundamental rights of Kashmiri people.

The seminar was chaired by Dave Anderson MP and addressed by Liz Twist MP, Victoria Schofield, Lord Qurban Hussain, Kumar Sarkar, Ahlam Akram, Habib Jan, Anis Nasir, Mr. Shaikh and Mushtaq Lasharie.

Lord Qurban Hussain said the Indian government, under its Armed Forces Special Act, had given a licence to its occupation forces to arrest and kill the people of J&K.

 “The honour of women in Indian occupied Kashmir was not safe as thousands of them had been raped by the occupation troops, he said, adding even young boys of below 12 years of age were picked up from their houses and next day their dead bodies were thrown out”, he said adding that most of the women in the IOJK were half widows as the whereabouts of their husbands, who were picked up by occupation forces, were not known.

Lord Qurban claimed that some 30,000 Kashmiri people had been put behind the bar. Freedom movement leader Shabbir Shah had been in prison for the past 25 years. He said Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party government, which was pursuing the fascist and extremist ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had made the lives of Muslims and other minorities across India and occupied Kashmir miserable.

He said India’s move to abrogate Articles 35A and 370 of the constitution was illegal which was aimed at changing the demographic composition of the IOJK and making the indigenous Muslim population a minority in their homeland.

He demanded the international community, including UK, to pressurize India for allowing human rights organizations to visit the J&K for ascertaining on the ground rights abuses there. There was no restriction for such organizations to visit the Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

Victoria Schofield said due to the complete lockdown, the people of Indian held Kashmir were facing a shortage of food and medicines while the students were unable to attend their educational institutions.

Kumar Sarkar strongly criticized the BJP government policies based on the fascist Hindu ideology of caste system, which was total negation of liberal policies of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Alderman Mushtaq Lasharie CBE called for the implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir. He asked the participants to write letters to the UK government for putting pressure on the Indian government to stop atrocities on the eight million Kashmiris, who had been under siege for the last five months. He questioned that if the UN Security Council resolutions had been implemented on Iraq then why not the same could be done in case of Kashmir.

Attendees were from many communities across UK included in APPG on Third World Solidarity on Kashmir, Saundra Satterllee, Cllr. Rita Begum, Murad Qureshi member of GLA from Bangladesh, Professor Victoria Goddard Argentinian, Julie Fox French, Dr. Kathey Saugy Argentinian Academic, Ruaidri O Donnel Adviser to Tony Lloyd MP on Ireland, Christopher McHugh and many Kashmiris and Pakistani human rights activists.

Angela Rayner MP,  Ian Murray MP, Sam Terry MP,  Tan Deshi MP, Kevin Hollinrake MP,  Bob Blackman MP, Barry Gardiner MP, David Amess MP also attended.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Andrew Gwynne MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Nadia Whittome MP,  Karen Buck MP, Andy Slaughter MP, and John Healey MP could not attend the seminar due to other engagements but sent their apology.