Hafiz Saeed leads Kashmir Caravan, vows to march towards J&K
Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed on Tuesday led hundreds of his supporters in a rally from Lahore to Islamabad to protest against the unrest and deaths in Jammu and Kashmir, vowing to march towards the Indian state in support of the Kashmiri people.world Updated: Jul 20, 2016 15:00 IST
Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed on Tuesday led hundreds of his supporters in a rally from Lahore to Islamabad to protest against the unrest and deaths in Jammu and Kashmir, vowing to march towards the Indian state in support of the Kashmiri people.
The “Kashmir Caravan” organised by Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), the organisation now headed by Saeed, began from Lahore’s busy Mall Road on Tuesday afternoon. The caravan, comprising trucks and buses, stretched for several kilometres.
Members of the JuD, Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious parties are expected to join the rally at places such as Muridke and Gujranwala in Punjab province. The caravan is expected to reach Islamabad on Wednesday and the JuD plans to hold a public meeting in the Pakistani capital to express solidarity with Kashmiris.
Saeed, for whom the US has offered a $10 million, told supporters in Lahore that the rally will have three phases. In the first phase, the caravan will go to Islamabad to “wake up” members of the National Assembly and Senate so that they raise their voice for the rights of Kashmiris.
In the second phase, Saeed said the caravan will travel to Muzaffarabad and Chakothi in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to campaign for the “freedom of Kashmiris”.
“And in the third phase, we will march into occupied Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) and we will continue marching till Kashmiris get freedom,” he said. Saeed did not say how the caravan would get across the heavily guarded Line of Control that divides the two parts of Kashmir.
The recent killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian security forces triggered violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir that have claimed more than 40 lives.
Like the Pakistan government, Saeed has referred to Wani as a “freedom fighter”. He said Wani’s death would strengthen the “jihad” in Kashmir.
Saeed, accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has asked the Pakistan government to immediately suspend diplomatic and trade ties with India, expel the Indian envoy and recall its high commissioner from New Delhi.
A statement from the Pakistan government said a “Black Day” will be observed across the country on Wednesday to “express solidarity with Kashmiri brethren and protest grave human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Rallies and functions will be held all over Pakistan and (PoK) to draw attention of the world community towards the burning issue of Kashmir,” the statement said.
Officials of the federal and provincial governments will wear black arm bands on duty to “express political, moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris”. Special prayers will also be held for “martyrs of Kashmir”.
The statement said Pakistani diaspora will protests in front of parliaments of their respective countries and UN organisations.
First Published: Jul 19, 2016 19:39 IST