March held by members of Islamic Center of Wichita for Kashmir


Members of the Islamic Center of Wichita marched in northeast Wichita to protest the state of Kashmir being under siege by the Indian government.

Since 1947, Kashmir has had an autonomous status recognized by the U.N.. This was guaranteed by Indian constitution article 370, and state subject protections guaranteed by article 35A, however, it was overturned by the Indian parliament on August 5. Kashmir is a majority Muslim state, mostly controlled by India, and areas of the state have been under military lock down and curfews for several days that affects roughly 12 million people.

"There is gross human rights violations, there is no access to proper medical care for anybody and this has to end," said Rozina Shah, a woman in the march who has family in Kashmir.

In Wichita, the group marched from near 35th Street on Rock road, to 29th Street, which is about a 1 mile walk. Shah said she is worried because there has been a communication blackout there and she can't get a hold of her family.

 "The internet, the telephones landlines, phone services, completely disrupted," Shah said. "This morning alone I spent about an hour trying to get through on the landlines and the landlines are not also working."

According to Shah, she eventually got a call to go through, but is still unaware of her family's status. Knowing the state of the area now, it also makes her worry.

"This whole state has been turned into one big prison," she said. "People are imprisoned in their own home."

Shah and others held signs over 7,500 miles away from the country hoping to get their message out. Nationally it has caught the attention of President Trump, as he mentioned it at the end of a tweet. It's even caught the attention of some people in Wichita.

"Obviously taking away cell phones, losing internet access keeping people restricted to their neighborhoods, restricting food supply, this is obviously a humanitarian crisis in which the world needs to pay attention to and respond," said Ramona Ashraf, a Wichita resident in the protest.

Although Shah is far away from her family, she said she wants to continue to voice their protest to Wichitans, and beyond, hoping it eventually reaches around the world.

"Enough is enough," she said "We are asking India, we are asking the international community to please stand with Kashmir and stand for human rights."

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