SRINAGAR: Inspired by the Syrian way of protest, young Kashmiris based in the Valley and abroad have opted for a unique ‘fasting campaign’ to express solidarity with political prisoners, and to seek return of the mortal remains of JKLF founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru who are buried in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
In the campaign started and managed via Facebook, young Kashmiris volunteer to fast from dawn-to-dusk. The fasts are observed not at any particular spot but at the volunteers’ respective places of abode.
“A somewhat similar campaign was held in Syria for breaking the siege and to provide food to people there. It also entailed signing up to fast to bring attention to the issue. When we learned that two Kashmiri prisoners Sheikh Farhat and Sheikh Imran are going on a hunger strike (in a Kolkata jail), we wanted to help,” Huma Dar, a US-based Kashmiri who is an academician in California, told Kashmir Reader on Tuesday.
Huma along with Mohammad Junaid, another US-based academician, started the campaign on January 11 to last till February 11—the date on which JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat was executed in New Delhi’s Tihar jail in 1984. Ever since, Huma said, Kashmiris from across the globe have been fasting “under supervision of trust and faith alone.”
“We don’t choose who fasts, but people themselves volunteer. With people fasting all over the world, it’s already showing effects at this point,” Huma said.
“Wallah-u-Aalam (Allah knows). Like all fasting, obviously, this is on trust and faith,” she said when asked who monitors the volunteers’ fast.
Ahead of each fasting day, the names of the volunteers are published on two Facebook pages—‘Fast For Freedom: Return Our Political Prisoners, Return Our Martyrs’ Remains’, and ‘Free Kashmiri Political Prisoners’—through which the campaign is being managed. And after they break the fast in evening, the pages display their comments and thoughts.
“Tomorrow on January 29,” the campaigners announced on the FB pages on Tuesday, “Afra Siyab, Raja Ishfaq Ibn Lateef, and Ghazala Anwar will be Fasting for freedom.”
The campaigners are simultaneously running several activities as part of the month-long programme to commemorate Bhat and Guru on their upcoming death anniversaries. And it includes collecting signatures from academicians, artists, intellectuals, and other sympathizers from across globe on an “important letter” that is to be made into an open petition.
“We are collecting signatures. We will make it public around February 1, and make it into an open petition for everyone to join.” Huma said, adding that the campaign was fetching results.
“One of the aims was to build awareness and shake off apathy related to the Indian military occupation of Kashmir and its vicious system of detaining and incarcerating Kashmiris for political dissent. People who had never heard about the Kashmir dispute or its occupation by India are asking us questions and getting educated,” she added.