Anti-India Rally To Take Place In UK Calling For 'independence Of Kashmir'
18 October 2014
Times of India
: An anti-India rally, calling for the independence of Kashmir is being planned on British soil. A 'Million March' is to take place on October 26 which expects to see thousands of people rally through central London in protest against India's supposed 'human rights violations in Kashmir'. The rally will begin in London's Trafalgar Square and end at Prime Minister David Cameron's office at 10 Downing Street where a petition would be submitted asking Britain to push India into resolving the Kashmir impasse with Pakistan. A similar anti-India protest rally has also been planned at Brussels following day on October 27. India voiced serious concern against the planned march with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj asking British foreign secretary Philip Hammond to stem the anti-India march. Swaraj who met Hammond for their first bilateral meeting said UK can't allow anti-India sentiment to thrive in UK. Swaraj also brought up the issue during her meeting later with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. UK however made it clear to India that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan for the two countries to solve together. A foreign office official said, 'UK will not mediate over Kashmir. India did raise serious concern over the rally but Britain can't stop it from happening provided the protesters don't break the boundary of law. People in UK have the right of expression and right to protest'. Clegg said, 'Kashmir can only be resolved by the two neighbours - India and Pakistan through dialogue. UK does not intend to be a mediator between the two countries'. Clegg added, 'This is a long-running conflict, and we stand by to help; but ultimately it can be resolved only by the two countries in question'. The protest has seriously irked the Indian high commission in London that had earlier asked the British foreign office not to allow such anti-India rallies to take place on British soil. India's foreign office also wants UK to take strong measures against 'those instigating and organising anti-India rallies in London and other parts of UK.' External affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said after the meeting between Swaraj and Hammond, 'We informed Britain of the recent developments between India and Pakistan. We were preparing for secretary level talks with Pakistan and had categorically told our neighbours to either talk to us or the separatists. They decided to reach out to separatists days before the official talks were to take place'. Akbaruddin further added, 'Britain was categorical that it is only India and Pakistan who can resolve the impasse. UK didn't intend to be a mediator'. The rally meanwhile is being organized by former prime minister of what some call 'Azad Jammu & Kashmir' (AJK) Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry. Barrister Chaudhry says the purpose to hold the Million March is to exert pressure on the Indian government 'to resolve Kashmir issue and stop severe human right violations in occupied Kashmir'. He also wants British Parliamentarians to raise the issue of an independent Kashmir in the House of Lords and House of Commons. Chaudhry said, 'The people of Kashmir have been struggling for many years to have the right to their own destiny. Imagine Scotland being partitioned into two parts with one being given independence and the other half occupied by British troops at a ratio of one soldier for every two civilians, with restrictions on all their movements. The people of Kashmir have always rejected the idea of having a border separating its people'. Interestingly a British MP David Ward recently managed to have the House of Commons debate Kashmir but failed to garner much support. The debate saw the British government reiterate its position that, 'It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one'. It was the second debate on Jammu & Kashmir in the House of Commons in three years. In a note, the Indian high commission recently told British MPs 'It is a widely recognized fact and clearly recorded internationally that infiltration of terrorists into Jammu & Kashmir is aided and abetted by Pakistan, including use of cover fire and other military actions on the border. It is necessary that no encouragement should be given to the proponents of terrorism and jihadi elements which are being sent into India to create mayhem'.