A solidarity march is planned for Saturday in St. John’s to show support for people in Kashmir, the Muslim-majority state in India.
Concern about militarization and cut-off communication with family in the region began after a Aug. 5 decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to Reuters News Service, the government announced it is withdrawing Kashmir’s special status and integrating it fully into India.
Militarization of the zone has sparked worry around the world among people who have family in Kashmir, as well as protests of the situation.
“Family members were cut off from the world,” said Nabila Qureshi, a St. John’s resident whose family originates from Kashir.
They finally spoke to relatives on Saturday but, because they say communication is guarded, they are still worried.
The Saturday event, which will start at Bannerman Park and Colonial Building at noon and proceed down Duckworth Street to City Hall, is meant to bring awareness to Kashmir’s turmoil, as well as give people who want to support human rights a chance to speak up.
“We wanted to do our part to stand up for that, let the people of St. John’s know we are here and bring attention to this,” said Qureshi, whose family has been in St. John’s since 2008.
She said she hopes a large group will turn up and add their voices to protests happening nationally and internationally.
“That we are here, and we are all in this together and want to stand up and express our grief and concern,” Qureshi said.
The family had plans to travel to the region soon for a family wedding.
“We don’t know. We haven’t officially cancelled anything,” Qureshi said.
“We are hopeful the state of normalcy will return. As of now we are on the edge. We don’t know what decision to go with.”
Critics said the decision alienated many Kashmiris and would add fuel to a 30-year armed revolt in the Himalayan territory that Pakistan also claims, according to reports for Reuters News Service.
Nabila's father, Dr. Yaqoob Qureshi left Kashmir in 1990.
Everyday before he goes to work, he calls his mother back home. After Aug. 5, he wasn't able to contact family for 12 days, and worried for his mom, brother, other relatives and friends.
"It's like someone has taken away the most precious thing in your life," he said Tuesday.
"It's like someone has taken away the most precious thing in your life." — Nabila Qureshi
He said it's different from being out of communication during natural disasters, such as the floods of 2014.
"This was forced upon you because of ulterior motives and basic human rights had been taken away," he said.
"Oh my God, my God, I couldn't sleep. Every time I would wake, I was turning around and tossing in the bed. The thought would come — what is happening there?"
He said since the weekend, he has only been able to reach his family through land lines, not cell phones or Internet.
Like his daughter, he hopes the March will draw a widespread, diverse crowd who are peace loving and understand basic human rights.
"This can happen anytime. Nobody is immune now," Qureshi said.
The link for the event is: