This article was first published in the North Dallas Gazette. Find them at www.northdallasgazette.com
On Saturday Aug. 10, hundreds of protestors gathered for a rally at the JFK memorial in downtown Dallas. The protest was planned in response to a new development in the hotly contested Himalayan region of Kashmir.
What’s Happening in Kashmir?
Kashmir has long been an area of dispute between Pakistan and India. Both countries believe they have a right to the land, going back several decades. The tiny region is so important because of the glaciers that provide fresh water to over a billion people. The issue of Kashmir is known to be one of the most dangerous conflicts in the world.
In 1947, India was split into the majority-Muslim country of Pakistan, and the majority-Hindu country of India. Kashmir, a majority-Muslim territory led by a Hindu ruler at the time, was given the choice to join either new country. The ruler decided to stay neutral. Since then, three wars have been fought over the region and a solution is yet to be reached.
The protest was held in light of recent actions taken by the government in the Indian-administered section of Kashmir. The ruling party, known as the BJP, passed a law that would abolish something known as Article 370.
This article provided Kashmir with its own constitution and almost complete autonomy, except in areas such as defense and foreign affairs. The drafters of the constitution put laws in place that would secure the power for the people of Kashmir. It had been in place for 7 decades until now. Now that it has been abolished, Indians plan to move to Kashmir and change the demographics of the region in their favor.
On Aug. 5, the Indian government took action and sent in thousands of troops, enforced a curfew, banned public gatherings, and shut down all communication outside of the region. This prompted an international outcry and protests around the world.
“I haven’t been able to contact my family in seven days,” says one Kashmiri protester who preferred to go unnamed. “What the Indian government is doing is unjust and un-Democratic. The future is unclear but we certainly don’t want to be controlled by India.”
“There are many Kashmiri families here in Dallas that have been affected by the recent developments,” says Imran Younus of the Islamic Circle of North America, a co-sponsor of the rally. “We wanted to show support and solidarity to their families by raising awareness through this rally. The people of Kashmir have been cut off from the world but it is our duty to be their voice during this trying time.”
With little information coming from the ground, the international community is in the dark about what is happening live. Local families have been told that major protests are being held in Kashmir currently and that the Indian government is using force to suppress the protestors. People have been injured and some killed during these protests.
On Thursday Aug. 22 after Maghrib, there will be an informative session about the situation. It will be held at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center on 351 Ranchview Drive in Irving. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, an expert on the issue, will be flying in as the main speaker. Everyone is encouraged to attend and learn about what they can do to help.