As the nation observes Kashmir Solidarity Day to express support for Kashmiris and their inalienable right to self-determination under the United Nations resolutions, in a message, the premier said the occasion is being observed to reaffirm support for Kashmiris who have been “subjected to an inhuman lockdown and communications blockade for six months now”. The premier is expected to address a special session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad. Human chains will be formed at Kohala, Mangla, Holar and Azad Pattan points linking Pakistan and AJK. Meanwhile, in the federal capital, citizens will form a human chain at D-Chowk.
Annually, February 5 is observed as a day of solidarity with Kashmiris. This year, however, it comes after India stripped the region of its special status and imposed a lockdown. The Indian government had on August 5, 2019, repealed Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status. It also divided up occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories; one Jammu and Kashmir, and the other the Buddhist-dominated high altitude region of Ladakh. The bifurcation of the territory came into effect on October 31 last year.
A strict lockdown and communications blackout has been in place in occupied Kashmir since August 5. Forcing people offline has crippled the economy and made it impossible to pay utility bills, make applications or just send a message to family outside the stricken zone. Last month, limited mobile data services and internet were temporarily restored in the region.
Also Read: Kashmir: The Scar of the Subcontinent