By Abu Arqam Naqash
MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, Aug 3 – Hundreds of Pakistani supporters of a militant-linked charity tried to cross into the Indian part of the divided Kashmir region on Wednesday to deliver aid after weeks of violent protests there.
But the activists from the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charitable arm of the anti-India Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, did not have permission from either the Pakistani or Indian authorities to cross the contested border and were stopped in a village on the Pakistani side where they staged a protest.
“We will continue the sit-in until these essential food supplies are sent across the divide into the curfew ridden Kashmir valley,” Hafiz Abdul Rauf, a senior official of the charity, told Reuters.
The United States designated the charity a “foreign terrorist organisation” in 2010. The group denies any militant activity.
The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided since shortly after India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars over it and the border between them in the region is an old ceasefire line known as the Line of Control (LoC).
The United Nations still monitors the well-fortified positions on both sides of the tense divide.
Forty-six people have been killed and more 5,000 wounded, including Indian security forces, since protests erupted there after the killing of a militant commander on July 8.
Most of the violence has been in the Kashmir Valley, the most populous part of Indian Kashmir, which includes the main city of Srinagar.
The JuD activists, chanting “annihilation of India”, tried to approach the LoC but were kept well back by steel barricades erected by Pakistani security forces in the village of Chakothi.
The protest came hours before Indian Interior Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, for regional talks, according to footage broadcast on the Pakistani television news channel Geo.
A Kashmiri militant commander led a protest in Islamabad against Singh’s visit earlier on Wednesday. About 300 people attended.
The militant leader, Syed Salahuddin, said Singh was “a killer of Kashmiris” and Pakistan should cut diplomatic ties with India over the violence in Indian Kashmir.