Protest to be held in Leeds city centre over Kashmir crisis

A protest will be held in Leeds city centre over the crisis in Kashmir.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 3:17 pm
The protest is set to take place in Millennium Square.

More than 2,000 are expected to gather in the city centre for a demonstration over ongoing tension in Kashmar, 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Article 370, a special clause in the Indian constitution which gave Kashmir significant autonomy and independence, was withdrawn on August 5.

Campaigners are expected to take to the streets in Millennium Square on Saturday in protest over the move by the Indian government, according to Coun Mohammed Iqbal, who is attending the demonstration in solidarity with Leeds' Kashmiri community.

Others expected to turn out for the protest include Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel, Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, Leeds East MP Richard Burgon and Bradford West MP Naz Shah.

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Mr Benn formally expressed his concerns about Kashmir after the withdrawal by writing to the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on behalf of his Kashmiri constituents.

Writing on his website, Mr Benn said: "I am gravely concerned by India’s unilateral decision to withdraw the region’s autonomy – by revoking Article 370 of India’s constitution – and to put the area into what is, in effect, military lockdown.

"As you will be aware, politicians have been put under house arrest, a curfew has been imposed and telecommunications and internet connections have been shut down. It is unclear exactly what India’s intentions are now beyond direct rule, but there is widespread anger at its decision, without any consultation, to remove the rights and devolved decision-making that have been enjoyed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"I have urged the Secretary of State to ask India to reverse the revocation of Article 370 and lift the curfew and other restrictions so that talks between all parties, including representatives of the Kashmiri people, can take place. I have also requested that this matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council given the potential threat to regional peace and security."

The protest will take place at noon in Millennium Square on Saturday, September 14.

What is happening in Kashmir?

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.