Burnley Council to raise Kashmir issue with government on behalf of residents

Mozaquir Ali addresses a meeting with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson looking on
Mozaquir Ali addresses a meeting with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson looking on

Burnley Borough Council is to debate the ongoing humanitarian issues in Kashmir, after concerns were raised by hundreds of Burnley residents who originate from the disputed region.

Burnley Council will debate and move motions on Kashmir at its full council meeting tomorrow night in Burnley Town Hall which will be followed by a public protest.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been under a lockdown and curfew since the revocation of articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution that provided semi autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir to have its own flags, legislature, government and prime minister.

The revocation stripped off all privileges which has increased tension between India and Pakistan, the region's two nuclear powers, who already fought two wars over the disputed territories since the partition in 1947.

There are thought to be thousands of residents of Kashmiri origin living in Burnley and Pendle who have families and relatives with whom they continue to maintain strong ties.

Burnley and Pendle Friends League took the lead in highlighting the issue with public meetings held recently at St Luke's Parish Hall, Brierfield, and at The Ace Centre, Nelson, as well as a vigil outside Nelson Library.

Coun. Raja Arif Khan, who is expected to move the motions in council, said: "People in Jammu and Kashmir are living under an extreme situation with no access to communication, food and medicine due to the inhuman lockdown imposed on them.

"It is therefore our ethical and moral duty to help them in their most destitute times and hope our steps will enable help to be made available to them."

Former Burnley councillor and general secretary of Burnley and Pendle Friends League Mozaquir Ali said: "Our recent efforts against the oppressive move by India in Kashmir are gathering momentum with community mobilised and activities increased, with more awareness people are coming to know the dire situation there.

"Our campaign will continue to help the people in Kashmir until they are afforded, what we all take for granted, freedom of choice."

If the motion is agreed, Burnley Council will write to the Foreign Secretary urging immediate action over allegations of human rights violations as well as calling for the past resolutions of the United Nations on Kashmir to be fully implemented.