Thousands of people in Muzaffarabad have started marching towards the Line of Control to show solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Indian-held Kashmir.
The ‘People’s Freedom March’ has been organised by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. It started from Bhimber on October 4 and it will end at Chakothi, near the LoC, on Sunday.
Chakothi is located about 61 kilometres away from Muzaffarabad.
The JKLF have claimed that their final destination will be Srinagar. The movement’s acting chairperson Abdul Hameed Butt, who has spent 13 years in an Indian jail, is leading the march.
A poster at the march reads: India is Free. Pakistan is Free. Why is Kashmir not free?
Some people who were walking alongside JKLF leader Raja Haq Nawaz kept chanting ‘Raja Haq Nawaz, kadam barhao hum tumharay saath hai’ [Raja Haq Nawaz, take a step forward, you have our support].
The protesters stayed the night at Garhi Dupatta on Saturday evening after covering a distance of 20 kilometres on foot.
A heavy contingent of police has been deployed in Chinari on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road to prevent the marchers from moving towards the ceasefire line.
Reports suggest that containers, barbed wires, and mounds of mud have been put on the route too.
Dr Tauqeer Gilani, another JKLF leader, said that the government should support them in their struggle rather than creating hurdles. “Our cause is the cause of all the people in the country,” he can be heard saying in a video on social media.
The movement’s founding father, Amanullah Khan, has told us to refrain from three main things; rukhna, bikhna and jukhna (stopping, selling out and bowing down).
The people marched for 12 hours straight and when we arrived in Muzaffarabad, people were still passionate and didn’t let fatigue tire them out, Gilani remarked.
“We want the AJK PM to come and lead our march,” he added.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan cautioned the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir from crossing the Line of Control to help their brothers in the Indian-administered Kashmir. He claimed that India will use it to promote its narrative and continue to oppress the people in the valley.
“I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris in AJK seeing their fellow Kashmiris under an inhumane curfew,” he wrote in a tweet. Anyone crossing the LoC from AJK to provide humanitarian aid or support the Kashmiri struggle “will play into the hands of the Indian narrative”.
The premier said that India is a promoting that narrative “that tries to divert from the indigenous Kashmiris’ struggle against brutal Indian occupation by trying to label it as ‘Islamic terrorism’ being driven by Pakistan”.
He warned that this will give India an excuse to increase its “violent oppression” of the Kashmiris.