LONDON: Two of London’s leading universities, King’s College and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) organised Kashmir Awareness Week which concluded on Saturday.
The Kashmir solidarity movements of the two institutions had planned a series of symposiums and talks over the past week in an attempt to trigger debate and present all sides of the conflict.
“We are seeking to stand in solidarity with the Kashmiri people and their struggle for self-determination,” their statement said.
Students, academics and representatives of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) were present at the event.
“The Jammu and Kashmir issue is not about the valley of Kashmir but the whole state and its various inhabitants are equal stakeholders to the dispute,” said Dr Vivek Kaul, a National Health Service (NHS) surgeon, invited to a seminar at King’s College yesterday.
“It is also shameful that both India and Pakistan forget the other equal stakeholders in the dispute which include Kashmiri Sunni Muslims, Kashmiri Shias, Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs, Dogras, Jammu Muslims, Poonchis, Mirpuris, Gilgitees, Baltis, Ladakhi Bud-dhists, Kargili Shias, Kishtwaris, Badrawahis, Gujjar, Bakerwals etc,” he said.
Zafar Khan of JKLF focused on the need for plebiscite and claimed that the majority of the population was in favour of an independent Kashmir.
“The plight of Kashmiri Pandits, when 350,000 of them were thrown out of their homes into ramshackle tents in Jammu, was the obvious elephant in the room that no one wanted to acknowledge,” said a Kashmiri Pandit student.