Peaceful protest for Kashmir community

By D'Angelo Martin

New Zealanders of Kashmir origin have gathered at Aotea Square today to raise awareness about the worsening situation for people living in the region. 

Ikhlaq Kashkari, who is the chairman of the Muslim community, led today's peaceful vigil while other speakers came after him sharing their thoughts on the situation.

"If you take my parents, they are in their 80s, they went back to Kashmir a month ago. I have no information about them, I've got no information on how they are? Have they got food? Have they got their medication?"

Kashkari has spent most of his life in New Zealand and has devoted his time to ensuring there is peace back in his homeland.

"They have cut off all the internet, they've cut off all the mobile phones, all the landlines. All the local media has been cut off, you're not allowed to print any media, no local TV, no local newspaper," he says.

Kashmir is situated on the northern borders of India and Pakistan and has been a source of conflict between the two countries since 1947.

"They have locked everybody in their houses, they're not allowed to move out, doesn't matter whether you're sick, healthy, old or child," says Kashkari. 

"There is no food supply and they're pretty much beating people in that region. People have nowhere to go out, they are literally locked inside the valley."

"As part of this exercise, they've basically torn that treaty, like tearing the treaty of Waitangi, like it doesn't exist," he says.

Kashkari has heard about the ongoing issue that Māori face at Ihumātao.

"Anywhere that is forcefully, anything is taken away from the people, we can't do that in today's world. Colonisers have done that in the past, but we're not in that era anymore".

The Kashmir locals are anxious to make contact with their families back home.