Kashmiri people persist with their demands for self-determination

The Pakistani authorities blocked thousands of protesters who began a march to the de facto border which divides Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, known as the Line of Control (LoC).

Activists from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and other supporting organisations began the march on October 4, but are now facing police barricades which aimed to prevent them from reaching the LoC. In addition, according to an Associated Press report, sniper fire from the Indian side killed a woman outside her home in the border village of Abbaspur on October 6.

The march was reported as reaching the LoC on October 6 but Pakistani authorities are blocking roads five miles from the frontier. According to JKLF sources, the march was stopped at Chakothi, a village near the LoC in Azad Kashmir, on October 6 by the authorities. It has become a sit-in since then. There are three demands. These include: removal of the road block and letting the march proceed across the LoC to Srinagar. Or the authorities must bring the special representative of the UN Secretary General, and representatives of the permanent members of the UNSC based in Pakistan, to meet the organisers at Chakothi to receive the charter of demands. Thus far the demands have not been met and the sit-in continues.

The JKLF are demanding the freedom of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan. It must be stressed that the Line of Control is not recognised internationally as a state border.

Tensions in Kashmir have ramped up since August 5 when India abruptly changed the semi-autonomous nature of India-controlled Kashmir, imposing a media lock-down and a curfew. The move has been met with widespread international criticism. The Indian government had previously enacted the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1990, which had been invoked to arrest, search and destroy property, and kill with impunity. The Kashmir people themselves have been asserting their right to self-determination for many decades, dating back to the partition of India in 1947, in which the British state played such a nefarious role.

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