Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front -JKLF (S) ends Freedom March at LoC

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Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (S), a pro-independence political party has ended three day protest and Freedom March, the local media persons have confirmed in Pakistan Administered Kashmir. Earlier, at least 40 people were arrested after demonstrators of pro-independence JKLF (s) and other nationalist parties clashed with police near Tatrinote village near the Line-of-Control (LoC).

A local journalist Riaz Shahid reported from Rawalakot that JKLF’s freedom march and solidarity sit-in has ended. If, however, the party workers arrested by local police are not released by 12th September, the protest would start again.

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is a political organisation active in both Pakistan-administered and Indian-administered Kashmir. It was founded by Amanullah Khan, with Maqbool Bhat also credited as a co-founder. Originally a militant wing of the Plebiscite Front, it changed its name to JKLF in England in 1977.

After 1994, the JKLF (Y) in Kashmir Valley, under the leadership of Yasin Malik, declared an ‘indefinite ceasefire’ and reportedly disbanded its military wing. It committed itself to a political struggle for achieving its objective of independence for the entire region of the former princely state. The JKLF factions based in Pakistan-administered-Kashmir did not agree with this change of direction and split off from the JKLF (Y).

Renowned Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik is the head of JKLF in Indian held Kashmir. Even though the JKLF has only Muslim members, it is notionally secular. It continues to assert that a secular, independent Kashmir free of both India and Pakistan is its eventual goal.

The JKLF in the Kashmir Valley was banned by Indian government under anti-terror law in March 2019. According to various media reports, after nearly 30 years, a trial in the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel in Kashmir will begin next week as a special court has issued production warrant against JKLF chief Yasin Malik, officials said.

A protester said more than 40 JKLF activists had been arrested overnight [Courtesy of JKLF]
Chairman JKLF (S) Sardar Saghir Khan (Centre) addressing a rally near Line of Control (LoC).

The clashes between protesters and police took place on Saturday near the village of Tatrinote, about 80km south of the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, and close to the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistan-administered portions of the disputed territory.

On third day (Monday), a sit-in continued at the site of the clashes, police said. Mobile phone service in the remote area was disrupted, complicating reporting of the situation by the media.

India and Pakistan frequently violate a 2003 ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control, with both sides blaming each other for killing civilians and security forces on opposite sides of the de facto border.

“Our main demand is that the international community must take steps to resolve the issue of Kashmir and take steps to send back the armies of both countries [from Kashmir],” Toqeer Gilani, a senior JKLF leader in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, told Al Jazeera.

Gilani, who was at the protest site, said more than 40 JKLF members had been arrested overnight, and that they were being pressured to end their protest.

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