Meanwhile, elsewhere in the region, tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Kashmir’s main city to demand that the United Nations recognize Kashmir’s right of self-determination. The demonstrations occur amid a recent spate of violence in which 34 people have been killed in the last six weeks. One protester held a sign saying “Ban Ki Moon, Where Are You?” From AFP
Security was tight as crowds marched towards a local UN office, in defiance of official warnings against holding the rally in revolt-hit Srinagar, which remained tense after deadly clashes last week.
The UN office in Srinagar houses personnel who monitor ceasefire violations along the heavily militarised Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
“I have never seen such a big rally in Srinagar,” said Abdul Aziz, a 75-year-old shopkeeper who was taking part in the procession.
“I couldn’t resist coming out to demand freedom from India,” he said, as he marched towards the UN office carrying a placard reading “If freedom for Kosovo, why not for Kashmir?”
There are, in fact, 48 military observers deployed to UNMOGIP, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan–which mostly monitors ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir and Jammu. It is one of the oldest UN missions, dating from 1949–just after the partition of India. UNMOGIP itself has no say over the status of Kashmir. Only the Security Council can make those kinds of decisions. Still, it is the most visible sign of international presence in the region, so naturally it would be a target for demonstrators who want the capture the UN’s attention.