Hundreds turn out for Leeds city centre protest over Kashmir crisis

Hundreds of people turned out in Leeds city centre to protest over the Kashmir crisis.

Saturday, 14th September 2019, 4:46 pm
Hundreds of people turned out in Leeds city centre to protest over the crisis in Kashmir. PIC: Tony Johnson

Protestors gathered in Millennium Square for a demonstration over the ongoing tension in Kashmir, sparked after the Indian government revoked Article 370.

Article 370, a special clause in the Indian constitution which gave Kashmir significant autonomy and independence, was withdrawn on August 5.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn was among those who turned out for the protest.

He said: "There is real anger among this crowd about what is happening to the people of Kashmir who are being held hostage. There needs to be discussion at the UN about this issue. India and Pakistan are going to have to talk to each other about the Kashmir question. The Kashmiri people want to decide their own future."

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Two Leeds City councillors also voiced their concerns at the protest.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique (Labour, Chapel Allerton) said: "There is a complete shutdown of communication in Kashmir. People are running out of food and medicine. It is the biggest prison in the world. Families around Leeds and West Yorkshire have lost communication with loved ones. They are desperately worried about is happening on the ground."

Coun Gohar Almass (Labour, Beeston and Holbeck) added: "What we have in Kashmir is a humanitarian crisis. People who believe in democracy and human rights are rightly concerned."

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Kashmir has been a disputed region ever since the end of British rule and the partition into two separate countries - India and Pakistan.

In 1947 the local ruler of Kashmir, Hari Singh, chose to join India rather than newly independent Pakistan

This led to two wars and fighting that remains to this day.

In August of this year, Indian-administered Kashmir revoked Article 370.

Telephone and internet networks were cut off in the region.

Public gatherings were banned and more than 10,000 members of the armed forces were sent to the region.

Two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir were placed under house arrest.

Kashmir remains one of the most militarised zones in the world.