On Monday, the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status, in a move that risks fuelling already heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan
Nearly 400 Kashmiri students in Bangladesh, from several educational institutions, especially medical colleges, staged a demonstration on the Dhaka University campus concerning the ongoing crisis in Indian-held Kashmir.
The protesting Kashmiri students started gathering near the university’s registrar building around 4:15pm on Thursday and brought out a procession, marching through the Mall Chattar, Oporajeyo Bangla, and TSC intersections, before holding a rally in front of the Central Shaheed Minar.
Demanding immediate restoration of internet, landline, and mobile networks across Kashmir, they chanted slogans, carrying banners and placards reading “We want freedom,” “Free our land,” and “India, stop oppression in Kashmir,” and more.
Notably, a number of female students wearing medical aprons were also protesting.
“We are protesting the article which accorded Kashmir to India, which has been taken away from us,” said Mohammad Nawaz, one of the protesters.
“We have no information regarding our families, about whether they are dead or alive. We have literally no communication (with them). We’ve gone back to the medieval period,” he maintained.
“We are here to speak of humanity. This protest is to take our message to the entire world, especially the UN, to raise their voice to help end this crisis,” he added.
Questioning the role of the UN, he said: “We want to know whether the UN is an organization on paper only, or it acts against oppression across the world. The Indian government is for division, not unity.”
Fearing they may have to face financial hardship due to the communication disruption with their families, he said: “We might face tough times ahead since most of us will become bankrupt.”
Urging Bangladeshi people to stand beside them, Nawaz said: “We will be grateful if they help us in any manner. Maybe the situation will deteriorate further and we don’t know how long it will take for Kashmir to return to normal.”
Contacted, DU Proctor Golam Rabbani said the protesters gathered near the Shaheed Minar around 5pm in spite of the rain.
“They assured us that they would hold their demonstration in a peaceful manner. And they kept their word,” he said.
However, at 5:45pm, police intercepted the protesters when they started to march again from the Central Shaheed Minar area, and ended the rally.
The tension in Kashmir
On Monday, the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status, in a move that risks fuelling already heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.
The BJP-led Indian government announced the removal of Article 370 of the country’s constitution which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The next day, India’s Lok Sabha passed a bill to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, with 367 votes in favour and 67 votes against.
Tens of thousands of Indian troops have enforced a strict curfew, which includes no internet or phone services, and are allowing only limited movement on streets usually bustling with tourists flocking to the picturesque valley.
Late Wednesday, India's aviation security agency advised airports across the country to step up security as "civil security has emerged as a soft target for terrorist attacks" on the heels of the Kashmir move.
The developments in Kashmir have irked India's nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan which said Wednesday that it was downgrading diplomatic ties with Delhi. India has yet to respond to Islamabad's actions.
Islamabad has also vowed to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.
Pakistan has fought two wars with India over the scenic Himalayan region.