By Al Qalam Reporter
Hundreds picketed outside the Indian Embassy in Pretoria after Jumu’ah in protest against the decision by the Hindu Government to revoke the autonomy status of the Muslim majority regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
Many people from Kwa-Zulu-Natal, including members of the Pakistani community, had travelled to Gauteng especially to join the protest action.
An open-air Jumu’ah programme was held outside the embassy in Francis Baard Street with many speakers addressing the crowd bearing banners. The organisers received permission to hold the picket.
Salman Khan, Founder & Chairman of SAKAG (South Africa Kashmiri Action Group) told Al- Qalam from Johannesburg that the reason for the picket was to bring national and international awareness about the wanton human rights abuses of minorities, especially Kashmiris, by Indian Government forces.
He said the Kashmiri Action Group was carrying out protests in 76 countries where it has branches, and some of its principles were similar to the BDS Movement against Israel for its oppression of Palestinians.
Asked why it was important for SA Muslims to support SAKAG in its campaign – or why should they care, Khan replied, “It’s the right thing to do because it’s what the Holy Quran and Sunnah teaches us.”
In a letter to Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,
Khan wrote: “We write to you to draw your attention towards a silent genocide in Kashmir where 17 million Kashmiris have been put under brutal martial law since 4th August 2019.
“The illegal abrogation of Article 370,35a by BJP Hindutva led government of India was a unilateral decision by all means and categorised by the international community as a farce. He likened India’s unlawful action similar to that perpetrated by Israel. “We, the peace-loving citizens of South Africa implore in the name of justice, fair-play and humanity and ask you to put a stop to the ongoing tyranny, violence and oppression by the Indian army against the defenseless and innocent Kashmiri people in general and Freedom fighters in particular. He urged the South African Government to use its political and economic influence to call for – amongst many things – the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Indian troops comprising 880,000 armed personnel from occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In his letter,
Khan told Pandor: “The people of Jammu and Kashmir should be returned back their hitherto legitimate but usurped political, social, socio-economical, religious and all the other human rights, as prescribed by the United Nation’s Charter of “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which had been ratified by the Indian Government.” He said South Africa must ensure that Human Rights Agencies, South African Human Rights Commission and other Civil Societies NGOs should be given easy access to the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian armed forces.In a petition (signed by 25 civil and religious organizations) and handed to the office of the Indian High Commission, Khan wrote that “history has proven again and again that no power on the earth ever has succeeded to rule against the will of people.
The people of Kashmir want their right of self-determination as enshrined in UNSC resolution 47 of 1948, which was accepted by Indian PM Nehru in 1948, but the free and fair plebiscites, is being denied for last 72 years. He said the Indian Government need to ask whether the presence of over 890 000 armed troops and curfews for 72 years had ever quelled the Kashmiri thirst for freedom that has cost over one hundred thousand Kashmiri lives. If the answer is yes then “perhaps it is time for reconciliation and mediation to bring peace in Kashmir …and for Indians to consider a peaceful settlement of Kashmir and an honorable exit.”