January 26: How Kashmir led to virtual clashes in London?

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SRINAGAR: With Kashmir caught in the security blanket on the Republic Day, most of them do not know that Kashmir diaspora came almost in a blow-to-blow situation in London. The reason: Kashmiri diaspora, mostly those having their place of origin on the other side of Kashmir came out with, what they said, “free Kashmir” campaign on January 26. They termed it “Kashmir Campaign Global”.

Interestingly Pakistani media reported in detail the campaign and the media in mainland India gave enough space to the efforts that were put in by Indian diaspora to counter it.

“At least seven vans were seen driving around the British Parliament carrying signboards titled “Free Kashmir”,” Geo News, a Pakistani TV channel reported. “The digital vans went across dozens of important central London locations and then made their way to the Indian High Commission were Sikhs and Kashmiris came together for a large and noisy protest against the Indian regime.” It said Zaffar Quraishi, chairman of Kashmir Campaign Global who hails from J&K, spearheaded the campaign, that will continue for the year.

It said the vans were seen passing from outside 10 Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and Waterloo Bridge. “A source told Geo News that the vans will run in London’s various parts for a month and then the campaign will be initiated in Birmingham, Bradford, Glasgow and Manchester,” it added.

International Business Times reported that there were clashes outside the Indian High Commission in Central London as British Lord Nazir Ahmed, a pro-Pakistani peer, staged a ‘black day’ protest demanding Kashmir’s independence.

“The protests focused on the ‘oppression in India’ and further pushed for Khalistan which was, however, countered by the Indian and British groups in the English capital,” the IBT reported. “The protests were apparently carried out the same day India celebrated its 69th Republic Day on January 26.”

Offering details the IBT said: “The Indians in the UK, to counter the Pakistan-backed protests, had staged a ‘Chalo India House’ demonstration outside the Indian High Commission in London. As both groups raised slogans at the same venue, it led to clashes.” It quoted Indian High Commission terming the event as a “desperate attempt by a disgraced politician”. Nazir was earlier suspended from the Labour Party in an anti-semitic row in 2013.

The verbal duels were captured on video by the two sides as per their requirements.

The “clash” has actually gone to virtual world after it happened. “Highlights from #BlackDay protest outside Indian High Commission- peaceful demonstration was attacked by RAW hired thugs,” Lord Nazir wrote on the micro-blogging social website Twitter. Pat came from Delhi when the Minister of State for Home Affairs Kran Rajiju wrote on the Twitter: “Salute to the Indian patriots in London. The minuscule fringe elements can’t dent the spirit of India. We are all one from Arunachal Pradesh to Jammu & Kashmir, Nagaland to Rann of Kutch, Kanyakumari to Punjab.”

In Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was satisfied with what was happening in the UK. “Good to see that our Diaspora in the UK has launched KASHMIR CAMPAIGN GLOBAL a digital awareness campaign to highlight #Kashmir issue. The campaign #BleedingParadise #LetKashmirChoose will initially run for 2 weeks in London across at 13 venues and through moving 4x20sqmeter digital.”

The UK “clashes” over Kashmir almost coincided with Pakistan raking up Kashmir in UN again. “Pakistan will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, as indeed, people living under foreign occupation elsewhere as for example in Kashmir,” Pakistan’s permanent representative at the UN Maleeha Lodhi was quoted saying in the security council discussion on Thursday. “This esteemed body must live up to its responsibilities and ensure the implementation of its own resolutions on Palestine and other longstanding disputes such as Kashmir so that people of the world do not lose entire faith in the United Nations.”

Lodhi’s intervention came within days after the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his concern over the escalations in tension between the rival armies of India and Pakistan but ruled out any mediation.

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