Mobile trucks in Washington, New York lit up messages demanding right to self-determination in Kashmir
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The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), a Washington-based advocacy body, displayed razor-sharp messages on mobile billboard trucks in Washington & New York, calling on the United Nations to fulfil its pledge towards the people of Jammu & Kashmir – right to self-determination.
The electronic screens on the mobile digital trucks carried messages such as: "UN obligated to implement its resolutions on Kashmir;” “Land grab operation in Kashmir is economic terrorism”; “Freedom for all: Freedom for Kashmir”; ”Stop Indian military & demographic terrorism in Kashmir”; “Indian occupied Kashmir: Most densely militarized settler colony”; “Hold India accountable for war crimes in Kashmir”; etc.
“Digital advertising trucks are considered to be the most effective way to spread a message as the brightly lit words on the screens catch the attention of the people walking on the streets and those coming in and out of government and commercial buildings,” said Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice.”
The route of digital truck in Washington included: All federal buildings, including the State Department; Capitol Hill; the Library of Congress; The Washington Monument; The White House; foreign embassies, various Museums; the Lincoln Memorial; Washington National Cathedral; the Indian Embassy; the World Bank and IMF. And in New York, The United Nations headquarters, offices of various UN Missions, Freedom Tower, Indian Mission; Battery Park, Central Park, Times Square, etc.
Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, Chairman, Kashmir Diaspora Coalition (KDC) and President, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said we stand in solidarity with Kashmiris across the globe in protests and rallies today on the 74th year of Kashmir’s Right to Self-Determination Day, demanding implementation of the resolution that was adopted on January 5, 1949. That resolution mandates a free and unfettered plebiscite in Kashmir. To highlight and draw attention of the freedom-loving people particularly in the United States, WKAF rented Digital Mobile Billboard Trucks in New York and Washington DC. The denial of the right to self-determination, Dr. Mir added, has brought both India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
“Our objective was to target the policy makers in Washington and New York as well as the passersby to let them know that crimes against humanity are being committed in the so-called largest democracy – India - and that the Biden Administration is giving preferential treatment to India because of its commercial interests,” Dr. Mir said.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai said that it was on January 5, 1949, when the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) worked out the concrete terms of settlement in close and continuous consultation with both India and Pakistan. As both governments formally signified their acceptance of the commission’s proposals, they constituted an international agreement as binding as a treaty. A ceasefire was immediately enforced. The Commission then started negotiations to draw up a plan for the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistan armies from the State in a manner and sequence that would not cause disadvantage to either side or imperil the freedom of the plebiscite.
Progress towards a solution was, however, blocked, Dr. Fai added, by India’s refusal to accept that the withdrawal of forces on the two sides should be balanced and synchronized. Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite.
Dr. Fai suggested, till India and Pakistan are persuaded to initiate peace negotiations with the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, in the interim, several measures should be taken to ease the misery and tensions of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Human rights organizations should be given greater access. India’s occupation forces should be thinned. All political prisoners should be released. Emergency laws which give India’ army immunity for human rights crimes should be repealed. Domicile law which is designed to change the demography of Kashmir should be revoked.
Dr. Imtiaz Khan, Professor at George Washington University Medical Center said, “Today on January 5, 2023, people of Indian occupied Kashmir commemorate the passing of UN resolution on this date in the year 1949. In this resolution it was agreed upon that the question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite. Subsequently, UN Security Council reiterated the right of self-determination of Kashmiris in various resolutions, including of 1951 and 1957. An inordinate delay in implementing the UN resolutions on Kashmir, repeated farcical sham elections in the State as well as the wave of democracy, which swept the globe in 1980s, brought the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir on the streets, agitating for their right of self-determination.
“To break the will of Kashmiris, India has deployed over 900,000 soldiers fully armed and with unlimited powers under the draconian Kashmir specific laws. They have wreaked havoc in the region including mass killing of youth, gang rapes and blinding children with pellet guns. The atrocities inflicted on the hapless Kashmiris have been documented by Indian and international human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. On August 5, 2019, Indian government thumped the nose of UN Security Council by abrogating the autonomous character of IOK. The state was transformed to a Union territory and thousands of youths were imprisoned and till now they are languishing in Indian Jails. The leadership of the Kashmiri political resistance movement and human right activists are incarcerated on frivolous charges and lodged in notorious prisons under sub-human conditions. There are well planned attempts to change the demographic character of the state by providing permanent residency and land to extremist Hindus. The ultimate goal is to convert IOK into a Hindu majority state with a long turn plan to achieve favorable outcome in case plebiscite is held in the future,” Dr. Khan added.
Dr. Imtiaz Khan warned that the silence of international community over this long-standing issue is heart breaking. It appears that India is being given a free hand to inflict atrocities on the people of Kashmir. It is startling to understand that this problem that has potential to snowball into a nuclear conflict in the region is not receiving any attention from international community. The silence is criminal, and outcome can be catastrophic not only to the region but entire world community. Dr. Martin Luther King very aptly remarked: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people”. Thus, people of IOK issue fervent appeal to UN Secretary General to use his mandate to bring parties concerned – India, Pakistan and the leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir -- to the negotiating table so that this conflict which poses a serious threat to world peace is amicably resolved.
Sardar Zarif Khan, main organizer of the event said that today, the Government of India has deployed over 900,000 military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir, making Kashmir the largest militarized zone in the world. Every independent human rights organization that has surveyed the Kashmiri landscape has expressed horror and outrage at the human rights inferno created by India. Sardar Zarif added that Kashmir cries for international intervention and we, the diaspora can make it happen provided we realize our responsibilities and be united.
Sardar Zubair Khan co-organizer of the event said that the deplorable situation in Kashmir is unacceptable. Kashmir is the most dangerous nuclear hotspot on the planet. It has already sparked two wars between the two nations, and a third would be a global catastrophe." Zubair Khan added that Kashmir was not an integral part of any country and yet we have the failure of the realization of the expression of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
Sardar Taj Khan, organizer of the event in New York called upon the United Nations Secretary General to impress upon the parties concerned to create an atmosphere for a free and impartial plebiscite in Kashmir that will guarantee peace and prosperity in the whole region of South Asia. Sardar Taj added that RSS extremist ideology has become a huge problem not only for the Muslims of India but also for other minorities, including Christians and Dalits.