FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
26 August 2008
Indian Muslim Council – USA (IMC-USA), an advocacy group working toward safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, strongly condemns the blockade of Kashmir Valley by the Amarnath Yatra Sangharsha Samiti. The economic blockade of the Valley has caused havoc and untold suffering to the civilian population of Kashmir.
According to news reports, Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti has vowed to extend its strike “chakka jam” till August 31. The Samiti has launched protest strikes since early August forcibly shutting down schools, shops, businesses and public transportation throughout the region creating an economic blockade on Kashmir Valley.
Equally condemnable is the firing by police and armed forces on unarmed civilians. At least 35 people are reported to be killed and hundreds more have been wounded in weeks of protests across the state.
By not taking immediate and stern action against the illegal blockade by Hindu nationalist organizations of the only highway into the Kashmir valley, the government has fueled the separatist sentiments and is alienating the people of Kashmir.
IMC-USA expresses dismay at the mishandling of the land transfer by the government authorities. Maintaining security and peace is the responsibility of the government and so far government attempts are failing. This failure of government will play into the hands of the extremists making conditions more tenuous. IMC-USA demands that the government do not allow the extremists to fan the communal sentiments in Kashmir and the rest of the country.
IMC-USA appeals to all sides to work towards restoring peace and to resolve the current land row by negotiating an amicable solution. The central government should immediately remove the economic blockade and restore normal conditions in the Valley. Appropriate compensation should also be made to the families of the civilians killed in the firing by police and armed forces.
Indian Muslim Council-USA is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.
Dr. Hyder Khan