UK-based Tehreek-e-Kashmir, an organisation founded in 1985, is planning to launch a Kashmir digital campaign in London. The body is also planning to protest and join the march for Kashmir on October 27 in London, expecting to bring close to 25,000 people.
If protest is not allowed outside the Indian High Commission in London, protestors will use a bus to launch their Kashmir Digital Campaign.
Raja Fahim Kayani, third President of Tehreek-e-Kashmir said, “If we are not allowed to protest outside the HCI, then Tehreek-e-Kashmir has decided to launch Kashmir Digital Campaign outside Indian High Commission London.”
Metropolitan Police under Section 12 Public Order Act 1986 imposed restrictions on the protest “in order to prevent serious disruption to the community”.
DAC Matt Twist, the Gold Commander in charge of the policing operation, said, “Those attending the demonstrations can expect to see a significant police presence. Taking into account the anticipated number of protesters, and in order to prevent serious disruption, we have imposed pre-event conditions on the Kashmir protest under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act.”
Matt Twist also said, “The assembly and the protest march must start in Parliament Street, process along Whitehall and conclude in Trafalgar Square. These are very iconic London locations, allowing good visibility of the protest, but will avoid the serious disruption that would be caused if roads closer to the High Commission became blocked.”
On October 24, MET Police said that “failure to adhere to these conditions may lead to arrest and prosecution”.
The decision of the Metropolitan Police came after many individuals and organisations of Indian descent had written to the Mayor, the Met Police and the Home Office to stop the protest as it falls on Diwali and was being perceived as an attack on the Hindus.
Kashmir protesters claim that October 27 is an important date for them. UK president of JKLF Tahseen Gilani is expecting to bring 2,000 people, while wishing everyone a “Happy Diwali” said, “It’s not against any religious practice. Around 8 million people been stopped to offer Eid prayers in August this year. Was it justifiable?”
The UK chief of the leading pro-independence organisation in J&K also said, “The Indian High Commission is not a religious place and neither are we protesting against Hindus. It’s against innocent killings in Kashmir.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan had “condemned the protest” and wrote to the home office and the Metropolitan Police to act.
UK MP Lord Ahmed, who has supported many “anti-India” protests before and who will be attending the protest on October 27, has written to the Metropolitan Police challenging their decision on imposing restrictions.
“I understand that Met Police has been forced by politicians including the Home Secretary and London Mayor to prevent Peaceful march on October 27, 2019, from Downing Street to Indian High Commission in Westminster.”
“We urge Metropolitan Police, Mayor of London and Home Secretary to act in good spirit and respect the rights of those seeking justice for the helpless by way of freedom of speech and expression of right to march to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir,” Ahmed said.
Other organisations joining the protest claimed to have written similar letters to the Met Police as they await a decision.
Chaudhry Tariq Mahmood, the chairman of Pakistan Patriotic Front in the UK, who expects to bring 10,000 people to the protest said, “My organisation went to the high court to file a petition against the police’s decision to not grant us permission to continue our Kashmir march all the way to the Indian high commission.”
“After a lengthy conversation with the listing officer of the high court, we were advised that we should follow procedure and request in writing to the commissioner and hand it to the commissioner’s office which was hand delivered as well as sent via email,” Chaudhry Tariq Mahmood said.
On the other hand, Metropolitan Police has said, “Apparently, no correspondence has been received as of earlier today. I have asked a senior officer to check as this hasn’t changed.”
In the meantime, court has been moved by them too and decision on the same is awaited.