NEW YORK: Braving torrential rain, Kashmiri-Americans and their supporters Sunday staged a huge rally in New York’s iconic Times Square to denounce India’s “illegal” measures of 5 August 2019 that revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, as they also called for the United Nations to honour its pledge to grant the Kashmiris their right of self-determination. Raising vociferous anti-India slogans and waving placards, a large number of people turned up to mark Youm-e-Istehsal – the third anniversary of the Indian siege of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Their placards read: “India: Honour UN Resolutions”, “Freedom for all, Freedom for Kashmir”, Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir”, “Demilitarize Kashmir”, “UN: Wake UP”, “No Justice, No Peace”, “We Demand Justice for Yasin Malik”; “India: Release All Political Prisoners.” Speakers at the rally condemned the Indian government’s attempts at changing the demographic status of Jammu & Kashmir by introducing politically motivated laws. They also condemned the life imprisonment handed down by an Indian special court in New Delhi to Muhammad Yasin Malik, one of the most prominent leaders of Kashmir, and Chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The protest rally was sponsored by JKLF, North America, and endorsed by all political, civil and social organizations. Sardar Haleem Khan, Chief Organizer of the rally and President, JKLF, North America, said that the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A was in violation of all United Nations Security Council resolutions. These resolutions were agreed upon by both India and Pakistan and endorsed by the world community. The right of self-determination, he said, was enshrined in all these resolutions which remain unfulfilled until today. “We appeal the United Nations Secretary-General to persuade India to rescind all these illegal and unconstitutional laws without delay,” Sardar Haleem Khan added. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, thanked the participants for expressing their solidarity with the people of Kashmir. It was one thing to deny a people the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to vote, but it was another matter to deny them the right to live, he said. There was no freedom in Kashmir — only death, destruction and oppression, Fai said. Fai emphasized that Kashmir is facing worst kind of oppression unleashed by Indian army. Innocent people are being killed, maimed, blinded, incarcerated, tortured and humiliated by the occupation forces. India was using its military might to crush, with impunity, the peaceful resistance movement of Kashmir. Fai expressed his sadness that no civilized nation, not even the United States, seems to be concerned with the human rights violations being committed in Kashmir. Not a single word has been uttered by them against human rights abuses taking place in Kashmir. Kashmiri-Americans still hope that the Biden administration can help the people of Kashmir to achieve peace, freedom and self-determination by initiating a peace process which must be inclusive – India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership, he said. Several other activists also spoke. Sardar Niaz Khan warned that the Kashmiri youth, who had laid down their arms to pursue their struggle by peaceful means, were again becoming restive and the prevailing tensions in occupied Kashmir might explode and lead to a conflict. He, therefore, urged the international community to resolve the Kashmir dispute for the sake of peace and stability in South Asia. Sardar Imtiaz Khan suggested that it was better for Indian authorities to shun its stubborn approach and resolve this long pending issue. The Indian army is unleashing a new wave of terror, killing dozens and maiming hundreds of unarmed protesters, using bullets and lethal pellet-guns aimed to kill and maim. Sardar Taj Khan warned that the overwhelming presence of 900,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces serves as a constant reminder to Kashmiris that they are a people subjugated and enslaved against their will. Every person has one or more tales of weeping and sobbing to recount. And their pain is compounded by the silence and indifference of the international community, especially from the United States. Sardar Sajid Sawar Khan said that an independent international mission is now needed to establish an objective assessment in Kashmir, noting that Indian government continues to ignore such calls for investigation. Dr. Mohammed Shafiq, President of the Pakistan-US Freedom Forum, said that the Kashmir dispute has an international dimension because it has the sanctity of the UN Security Council resolutions. The unresolved conflict over Kashmir, he said, threatens the international peace and security of the world. “It is for the UN to take forceful action in order to restore peace in Kashmir.” Shahid Comrade, secretary-general of the forum, said that corporate priorities, international banking interests, and the needs of Wall Street have taken control of governments everywhere, particularly India and the United States, with human rights taking a backseat.