Pakistan Detains Two Peace Campaigners In Kashmir


Two peace activists have been arrested by police in Pakistani Administrated Kashmir (PaK) for allegedly entering a city without visa and permission of officials.

Vijay Abrol and Darvinder Singh Behal activists from Indian Administrated Kashmir are currently on a peace tour of Pakistan and its administrated Kashmir (PaK) to promote harmony and tolerance among the people.

They were arrested by local police who claim that the visitors do not have travelling documents to visit the Mirpur, Southern City of Pakistani Kashmir.

The detainees claimed that they have informed the local authorities about their visit and have travelled to Pakistan on a valid visa.

A local pro-independence political leader Arif Shahid, who heads his party Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC), was also booked during these arrests.

Three activists have been detained in the local police station and jail separately, political groups confirmed.

The arrests have triggered a wave of anger and criticism across the region where protest rallies were held in various cities of Kashmir condemning the detentions.

The incident happened in a time when situation along Kashmir’s Line of Control (LoC) is very tense after recent killings of Pakistani and Indian troops, which blame each other for violating peace truce.

The protestors charged Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for being responsibile for the “abduction of the peace activists”.

Vijay Abrol and Darvinder Singh Behal, peace campaigners associated with a Jammu -based peace group Kashmir Social Peace Forum (PSPF) had arrived in Pakistan by Wagha border almost two weeks ago. They were warmly welcomed by the civil society and media.

Various dailies and publications have given the unusual display to the receptions and their media briefings of the peace promoters which are took into custody now.

Earlier, they have visited Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan administrated Kashmir.

Both activists have advocated the reunification of Jammu and Kashmir, urging for peace and harmony in the State. They also denounced the religious drift among followers of different religions, calling all citizens to be united for the sake of prosperity and wellbeing of the people barring any discrimination.

Eye witnesses say that before the arrest the activists joined and addressed a large reception gathering in Mirpur where Pakistan and India were urged to halt current tensions in Kashmir, which so far has claimed three soldiers from both sides.

In Muzaffarabad-the capital city of Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir; a protest rally was organized by pro-independence parties.

Agitators strongly condemned the arrests and demanded immediate release of the detained peace promoers.

Meanwhile, current skirmishes between the Indian and the Pakistani troops in Kashmir have also affected the Peace bus Service between the divided Kashmir.

The weekly bus, which was scheduled on this Monday to cross Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point will not occur due to the tension on the LoC, officials confirmed.

Pakistani and Indian officials have agreed to suspend both trade and travel on one of the key routes of peace interventions along Kashmir’ defocto border of LoC due to the ongoing tensions erupted after killing of troops and shelling from both side on civilians.

Pakistan and Indian governments are reported to ease the tension in Kashmir border through different diplomatic channels, however, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief’ announced on Saturday India may have to “look at some other options” if Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire on the LoC with impunity.

Peace lobbyists on both countries are pressing Indian and Pakistani governments to avoid escalation of military advancements and resolve issues through dialogue.

Zafar Iqbal

Zafar Iqbal, founder of Press for Peace (PFP), is a peace and human rights activist. He did his MA (Media & Globalization) from Nottingham Trent University, UK. He earned his post Graduation in Mass Communication from the University of Punjab, Pakistan. As a journalist, he has specifically been interested in peace and security with special perspective on South Asia, press freedom, globalization and environmental issues. He can be reached at [email protected]

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