The capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) resounded with anti-India slogans on Thursday as hundreds of schoolchildren staged a demonstration to express solidarity with their contemporaries in Kashmir valley.
Clad in colorful dresses and uniforms, boys and girls from different age groups and educational institutions first assembled at the “Burhan Wani Chowk,” along the Press Club, where they heard motivational songs as well as brief speeches by elders on Kashmir struggle.
The event was organized by renowned Kashmiri activists Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, Mushtaq ul Islam and their colleagues.
Though majority of participants was drawn from the educational institutions in the camps of Kashmiri refugees but some state-run schools had also sent their students to take part in the demonstration.
Most of the participants were carrying banners and placards inscribed with compact slogans on different angles of the longstanding dispute.
“We condemn torture of Kashmiri students by Indian troops,” read one of the banners.
Some of the students had chained themselves while some had covered their eyes with black bands to symbolize the use of force on students in Kashmir.
One group was holding an enlarged picture of a man tied by the army in Kashmir to the bonnet of a jeep with a caption, reading: “Humans are not shields; it is a severe crime in any law.”
Several placards reminded the United Nations of its seemingly forgotten obligations with regard to the longest pending item on its agenda – the Kashmir dispute.
“Wake up UN,” read one such placard, being carried by a boy, who appeared hardly five years old.
PaK’s young minister for education Barrister Iftikhar Ali Gillani also attended the demonstration for some time. Holding a placard, he sat cross-legged on the grassy roundabout together with dozens of other adult participants.
From Burhan Wani Chowk, the students marched through the main road towards the UN Military Observers Mission ahead of Domel, the confluence of rivers Neelum and Jhelum, braving hot and humid weather.
“Go India, go back”, “We want freedom” chanted the participants, loudly and repeatedly, while raising their hands aloft.
Talking to journalists on the occasion, participants said they were expressing their love, affection, sympathies and solidarity with their brethren across the divide, particularly in the wake of “successive crackdowns on educational institutions by Indian army.”
“We salute our brothers and sisters, who are waging a heroic struggle in spite of the worst ever repression. Their blood will not go in vain,” said Imsha Sajjad, a 7th grade student.
Raja Shahrukh, a 9th grade student said the visuals he had seen on social media “spoke volumes about the barbarity of Indian troops.”
“Despite letting loose a reign of terror, the Indian troops have failed to suppress the sentiments of Kashmiri people,” he added.
10th grade student Sughra Shabbir Butt said the assemblage was also aimed at drawing attention of the world community towards what was happening in Kashmir.
She however sounded resentful of what he alleged “half-hearted” response of the people of Pakistan to the dreadful situation in Kashmir.
“Don’t they see the Kashmiris draping the coffins of their loved ones in Pakistani flags or waving the green flags in front of Indian soldiers?” she questioned.