Kashmiri Youths Hold Protest In Muzaffarabad
12 January 2005
Jammu: Several hundred Kashmiri youths,camping in occupied Kashmir,staged a demonstration in Muzaffarabad recently in support of their demand for repatriation to the valley. These youths,whose number is said to be around 400, and belonging to various areas of the Kashmir valley, had gone across the LoC, years ago for receiving arms training. Most of them have learnt the technique of handling guns and assault rifles. For various reasons they could not be pushed into the valley for giving teeth to the ongoing militancy- related violence.During the past several years they were being paid Rs750 per month, a paltry amount to enable them to sustain themselves. When their persistent demand for better maintainance allowance and for helping them to return to their ancestral villages in Kashmir was ignored, they staged a demonstration, the first of its type in occupied Kashmir. These boys have formed an organisation called Hakiki Force and have revived their demand for being sent back to Kashmir.Led by Suhail Ahmed Dar, the demonstrators raised anti-Government slogans. However,the police kept a watch on the demonstrators but did not use force. Reports reaching here from across the border said that the agitators had dissociated themselves from the rebel groups. Several of them had expressed their dismay at the gun culture that had swept the Kashmir valley during the past 15 years. 'we want to go back to Kashmir.Even if we have to fight against the establishment in the valley, we will do it with kangris(an earthen pot in which live charcoal is kept for keeping the body warm in winter) and not the guns' has been the common refrain of the agitators. When members of the Indian Press delegation visited several areas in Pakistan and occupied Kashmir early last month, a number of Kashmiris who had crossed over to Pakistan,some for eking out a better living means and others for seeking arms training,had requested them to intervene so that Delhi and Islamabad agreed on 'our repatriation.' Mr Manu Srivastva , President of the Jammu Press Club,who was also a member of the visiting team,said that the overall economic condition of the kashmiri migrants was pitiable.He said several of them had set up small tea shops and many others were working as labourers. all of them were pining for a chance to be back to their homes in the valley. A number of them had tried to return to Kashmir by attempting to cross the border, but had been stopped by the Pakistani troops. Many among them did not dare to cross into kashmir illegally .they are waiting for Delhi and Islamabad to take a decision on their return to Kashmir.