October 27 is historically observed as Kashmir Black Day by the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as well as their friends and supporters worldwide.
This year was no exception.
In Pakistan, Azad Kashmir as well as other parts of the world such programs were organized to highlight India’s illegal occupation of the state and the terrible suffering inflicted on the Kashmiri people.
Toronto has had the honour in North America of always being in the forefront of supporting the struggle of the Kashmiri people by highlighting the reality in the Indian occupied state.
This year was no different.
Friends of Kashmir Canada observed Kashmir Black Day in Toronto on Saturday October 29.
Speakers at the Seminar recalled India’s illegal invasion of the state, the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri people and the ethnic- cleansing of hundreds of thousands of others from the state in 1947.
After recitation of the noble Qur’an and translation by Ahmed Khawaja who was also the program MC, Zafar Bangash, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and convener Friends of Kashmir Canada briefly highlighted the background of Kashmir Black Day.
He traced the Kashmiris struggle to 1846 when the British colonialists sold the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Gulab Singh for 7.5 million rupees.
The British conferred absolute sovereignty on the cruel Dogra ruler.
Kashmir did not belong to Britain but such was their colonial intrigue that they indulged in these illegal acts.
The Kashmiris staged uprisings in 1927 and then in 1931 before the partition of British-ruled India into two independent states of Pakistan and India in August 1947.
Their struggle for independence predates the emergence of Pakistan and India on the world map.
Dr Najm us-Saher, First Secretary at the Pakistan Consulate in Toronto, read the messages of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.
They not only expressed solidarity with the people of India’s illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir but also pledged unflinching support of Pakistan for their just struggle.
A Kashmiri sister born and raised in Srinagar, whose name is being withheld upon her requested, reflected on the grim situation facing the Kashmiri people.
Her family is in Kashmir and she gets regular reports from there.
Kashmiri families are being forcibly evicted from their homes, more than 96,000 Kashmiris have been murdered by the Indian occupation army and some 11,000 Kashmiri women have been raped.
Thousands of Kashmiri youth have been blinded by the use of pellet guns, the Kashmiri sister pointed out.
American-Canadian author and journalist Robert Fantina addressed the issue of India’s violation of international law, international humanitarian law as well the Geneva Conventions.
He also highlighted India’s disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions that it had agreed to in advance but has since reneged.
Yasir Butt, the Acting Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, once again reiterated Pakistan’s firm commitment to support the Kashmiris’ struggle politically, diplomatically and morally.
He reaffirmed that the government and people of Pakistan will always stand with the Kashmiri people.
The seminar concluded with a resolution presented by Ahmed Khawaja, the seminar MC.
The resolution condemned India’s gross human rights violation in the illegally occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Indian troops and paramilitary forces from the state so that UN-supervised plebiscite (referendum) could be held as per numerous security council resolutions.
The resolution was unanimously adopted by the seminar participants.