Kashmiris Rally Against Travel Restrictions20 July 2010
Muzaffarabad: Hundreds of Kashmiri nationalists on Tuesday rallied against restrictions on their travel to the Indian-administered side of the disputed Himalayan territory. The demonstration gathered close to the Line of Control (LoC), which separates the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir, but were stopped from massing at the border for security reasons, an AFP reporter at the scene said. The protesters say they should be allowed to roam freely between both parts of Kashmir if they hold a valid nationality certificate, but authorities said their policy was to allow only those with relatives on the other side to cross. 'People with valid nationality certificates in Indian and Pakistani Kashmir should be allowed to travel freely in both parts of Kashmir,' chief of the Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party, Liaqat Hayat, told AFP. Hayat's party seeks an autonomous Kashmir ruled neither by Pakistan nor India. He said trade across the LoC should also be administered through local government rather than Islamabad and New Delhi. Over the past six weeks the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has been in the grip of regular anti-India demonstrations. Clashes with security forces have so far left 17 young protesters and bystanders dead. A Muslim insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir has claimed at least 47,000 lives since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and funding Islamic militants who are engaged in the insurgency. Pakistan denies the charges. Pakistan says it is doing its best to prevent militant infiltrations into the Indian portion of the disputed region.