Kashmir: Thousands throng to pro-freedom rallies

Kashmir: Thousands throng to pro-freedom rallies
People participate in a pro-freedom rally in south Kashmir Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam

ANANTNAG: While authorities continue to impose harsh restrictions in major townships of south Kashmir, unity-cum-Azadi rallies in rural areas of the region have become the order of the day. Though the pro-freedom leadership has not called for such rallies, the people in rural areas of all the four south Kashmir districts are organising such rallies on a daily basis. About 70 such conferences have been held in the region in the past one month. Besides pro-freedom leaders, local representatives of various religious groups address these rallies calling for unity and discipline and steadfastness to achieve the goal.
Five such rallies were organised on Sunday in different areas of Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama districts. A massive referendum rally was held at Mulu Chitragam in Shopian district which, eyewitnesses said, was attended by over forty-thousand people.
People from dozens of villages of the area had come in cars, trucks, load carriers and two-wheelers to attend the rally. Besides the religious preachers, district president of Hurriyat (G) Mohammad Yusuf Falahi addressed the rally. Senior resistance leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani also addressed the rally from telephone. Geelani urged the people to remain steadfast in the struggle for freedom. “India has crossed all limits of oppression to crush the voice for freedom. But these oppressive tactics are not going to help it this time. Time has come for the Indian state to leave our land,” Geelani told the gathering.
He also appealed to people to follow the protest calender with spirit and discipline.
In Parigam village of Pulwama about fifteen thousand people participated in a similar unity-cum-Azadi conference. Besides the representatives of Hurriyat, local preachers from different schools of thought addressed the rally, urging people to be united. According to witnesses a well-known Congress activist announced his dissociation from the party and supported the ongoing freedom movement.
Another such rally was held in Breenthi village of Dialgam in which thousands of people participated. People from various nearby villages came on two-wheelers, cars and load-carriers to attend the rally. District president of Hurriyat (G) for Anantnag, Mir Hafizullah. and representatives from various religious groups and local elders addressed the gathering. Hafizullah urged people to remain united and to identify the people trying to create divide among them. “You should also ensure that there are people from minority communities, including Sikhs and Pandits, with you,” he said.
Though the government forces at several places, including Chee in Anantnag and Malangpora in Pulwama, had two weeks ago tried to foil such programmes by burning down tents, the organisers have ensured that the programmes are held by erecting new tents.
The money being spent on these conferences is donated by locals where the rally is held. People attending these rallies are also offered Tehri prepared by the villagers.