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Kashmir diaspora holds candle-light vigil against Kupwara civilian killings

Srinagar:  Kashmiri diaspora community spread across the globe on Friday night staged a candle-light vigil against the killings of five civilians, including a woman, in firing by government forces on protesters demonstrating against the alleged molestation of a school girl by an army soldier in Handwara town of north Kashmir last week.J&K diaspora community in Atlanta city of the US staged a “non-political” candle light vigil at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. “The vigil was organized in memory of those who were killed by Indian Army for participating in peaceful protests. The protests were against Indian army for reported molestation of a teenage girl, and killing of innocents in subsequent peaceful protests,” the community said in a press release.During the event, they were joined by people from different origins, culture and faith to express their support for peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue, and saving the “innocent Kashmiris from torture, forced-disappearance and killings by Indian army.”The event, they said, was a part of the global non-political candlelight vigil that was held on Friday at 8:00 PM local time in various cities in Australia, Asia, Europe, and American continents. Several Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri families held the vigil in their homes.“The recent events leading to the death of six Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir have torn apart unhealed wounds in the hearts of the Kashmiri community worldwide,” they said. “Thetroops fired on the protesters to kill them by shooting them in the head and upper body parts. A curfew was imposed in the area and mobile internet services suspended after the killings. The Indian troops are protected by draconian Indian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts for any crimes against the citizens of Kashmir.”They said that the Kashmiri diaspora community was outraged by this chain of events. “In an unprecedented effort to remember the innocent victims and to pray for the safety of Kashmiris, people of conscience led by Kashmiri diaspora, will hold candlelight vigils on Friday, April 22nd, at 8:00 p.m. local time wherever they are,” said the release.It added that a young generation of Kashmiri diaspora, without any political affiliations, was leading the effort.“They have organized peaceful candlelight vigils and silent sit-ins throughout the globe from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, United States. In addition to planned vigils in front of the White House in Washington DC and United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the vigils are planned to take place in greater Philadelphia area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities in the United States of America; Toronto and Edmonton in Canada; New Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, and Chennai in India; Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, and other places in the Gulf; Sydney, Australia; London, Brussels, Oslo, and other cities in the European Union; South Africa; and Kashmir,” added the release. In addition to organized protests, people of conscience throughout the world, including Kashmir, are planning to hold candlelight vigils on their porches, balconies, and decks and post pictures or videos on social media using #VigilForKashmir, #KashmirBleeding, #FreeKashmir, and #CandlelightVigilForKashmir hashtags. Many are planning to say a silent prayer and post messages of support and solidarity on social media on Friday, April 22nd, at 8:00 p.m. their local time.“Kashmir is the heaviest militarized region in the world, according to the Guinness book of world records. People of Kashmir want international community to intervene and speak on their behalf for their safety and their human rights. They want to live a life of dignity and honor and want politicians in the region to leave them alone to choose their own destiny,” said the release.“It is time that International community remembers that this wanton destruction of life is not mere statistics, but actual people in flesh and blood.”  (CNS)

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