NEW YORK - scores of freedom-seeking Kashmiris staged a demonstration in front of the United Nations building on Saturday as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the 68h session of the UN General Assembly.
The demonstrators raised vociferous slogans, urging the international community to raise its voice against human rights abuse by Indian security forces in Kashmir.
The demonstrators carried placards calling on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to implement the resolutions that provided for the exercise of right of self-determination by the Kashmiri people. They also called for an end to the atrocities being committed by Indian occupation forces in Kashmir.
The demonstrators, including men, women and children, chanted slogans, “we want freedom from India”, and condemned the Indian forces violation of human rights in the Kashmir valley and other parts of the region, where some 100,000 people had died in the uprising for freedom from New Delhi’s rule in the UN-recognized disputed area.
Sardar Sawar M Khan, a former member of the Kashmir Council, and Sardar Zahid Khan, a political activist from Azad Kashmir, in their speeches, said that the unresolved Kashmir dispute demanded immediate attention of the world body.
“This dispute has made South Asia a nuclear flashpoint and we are reminding the UN of its obligation toward fulfillment of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” Sardar Sawar said.
The speakers rejected Indian prime minister’s claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India, saying the relevant UN resolutions explicitly stated that it was a disputed area and that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be given the long-denied right to determine their future.
The demonstrators also submitted a resolution to the UN secretary general’s office, expressing appreciation for Ban ki-Moon's offer, during a visit to Pakistan in August 2013, that he was ready to take steps to resolve the decades-old Jammu and Kashmir dispute should India and Pakistan agreed to its mediation.
“As always, it fell on deaf ears in India, which claims that Kashmir is its 'integral part'. In this context, we are of the firm view that your responsibility to secure for the Kashmiri people their inalienable right to self-determination, as mandated by Security Council resolutions, does not end by making a conditional offer to settle the dispute.”
“The document points out that for more than three decades, the people in Indian occupied Kashmir have suffered from brutal military oppression, in complete violation of international law and norms.”
Tens of thousands have perished, many more wounded and maimed, while struggling for their cherished right to freedom.
“How long should we wait for the United Nations to implement its mandatory resolutions on Jummu and Kashmir? When will this long night of terror end? Time has come for the United Nations to take urgent steps to end the Indian occupation so that the Kashmiri people can breathe in freedom,” it said.
“A peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute will help promote peace between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Without resolving this core issue, there will never be lasting peace and stability in the region.”
The resolution said the people gathered outside the United Nations were also “protesting against the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's speech in the General Assembly in which he tried to project an image of India which has nothing to do with reality on the ground.”
As a guarantor of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the resolution asked the secretary general to initiate the Security Council-mandated process for a UN plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
“As a first step, we reiterate our demand that you immediately appoint a special representative on Kashmir to set in motion the process that would lead to the exercise of the cherished right of self-determination by the people of Kashmir. We earnestly hope that you will move decisively to promote a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute that would end the misery of the suffering Kashmiri people.”