Pakistani police arrested 45 pro-independence protesters in Pakistan administered Kashmir on Saturday not yet released. The protesters were demonstrating near the village of Tatrinote, close to the Line of Control about 80km south of the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Muzaffarabad.
The Line of Control (LoC) is the de facto border dividing India’s Kashmir from Pakistan’s Kasmir. Clashes erupted between protesters and police Saturday near the LoC when the arrests took place. On Monday, the protesters continued a sit-in at the site against the arrests.
The protests were called by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a prominent pro-freedom party that calls for an independent Kashmir free from both India and Pakistan.
“Our main demand is that the international community must take steps to resolve the issue of Kashmir and take steps to send back the armies of both countries [from Kashmir],” Toqeer Gilani, a senior JKLF leader in Pakistan-administered Kashmir told Al-Jazeera.
The protests were called against India’s abrogation of Article 370 which gave the Indian part of Kashmir, a special status. They were also demonstrating against India’s communication blackout at the region for the last 35 days.
District police chief Tahir Mahmood Qureshi said police used teargas on protesters to obstruct them from moving towards LoC because Indian army could have shelled them.
“We were giving them a safe route, but they wanted to go to an exposed area where Indians could have shelled them,” Qureshi said.
Shelling is a common occurrence between the two neighbors along the LoC which violates a 2003 ceasefire.
“Indian shelling has hit people in our area,” said Qureshi. “We did not want innocent people to be killed because of them [the protesters].”
The northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, as shown in the Indian map, is a wrong depiction of the territory. The whole state does not belong to India. Since 1947, three wars were fought between India and Pakistan and the later occupied some territories which are known as Azad Kashmir (Independent Kashmir).