AJK Students’ Body Supports Nicholson’s Report on Kashmir
29 January 2007
Muzzafarabad: Police baton charged a protest march of a student organisation to break up and prevent it from approaching the United Nations military observers’ mission here on Monday. The march was organised by the National Students Federation (NSF) to voice its support for a controversial draft report on Kashmir prepared by Baroness Emma Nicholson, vice-chairperson of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. As the NSF activists, who the police earlier tried to stop near the press club, reached some 300 yards from the UN observers’ mission they were baton charged and pushed back. However, they reassembled near the press club to recommence their rally following which the police again resorted to use of batons and wounded some of them. Police also detained nine activists in a nearby kiosk of Rescue 15 but released them after an hour or so when NSF president Mahmood Baig gave an assurance in writing that the group would not create any law and order problem. An administration official, Abdul Hameed Kiani, told Dawn that NSF leaders had already agreed that they would disperse near the press club but they did not honour their commitment which compelled the police to use batons. Mr Baig, however, said the police action was uncalled for because the group was peaceful throughout the rally. “We just wanted to deliver a memorandum to the UN observers whom we had already intimated about it but the police prevented us from doing that through ruthless baton-charge,” he said. The NSF leader vowed that his organisation would resume its “peaceful political struggle” after Muharram. Earlier, NSF activists, led by Mr Baig, Raja Sabah and Zulfiqar Baig, began their march from Upper Adda during which they crawled on road many a times while constantly shouting slogans against the “occupation of Kashmir by New Delhi and Islamabad” and in favour of disputed Himalayan region’s complete independence. The demonstrators were also holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans, endorsing the findings of European Parliament’s Rapporteur on Kashmir. “There is truth and only truth in Ms Emma Nicholson’s report about so called Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan”, read one banner. Later, Mr Baig distributed copies of the undelivered memorandum among journalists, which was written on behalf of the NSF and its political wing Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party (NAP). “We want to submit that Ms Nicholson’s report on Kashmir is based on facts and should be considered by the world at large as such. Those opposing and rejecting it are puppets of the Pakistani establishment,” the memorandum said. The 15-page draft report, which the mainstream political parties in AJK described as biased and lopsided, was due to be adopted on Jan 30 but discussion on it has been postponed till Feb 26 after more than 450 amendments were proposed to it by different MEPs.