Pakistan has strongly condemned restrictions imposed by Indian authorities on traditional prayers of Eid-al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Imposition of restrictions on prayers on one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar represents complete disrespect by the Indian government for the sentiments of the Muslims of IoJ&K [Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir]. It is also a flagrant violation of their fundamental freedom of religion,” said a statement from foreign the ministry.
Indian authorities, it added, were using COVID-19-related restrictions as a pretext to curb religious freedom of Muslims in the disputed valley.
“While the BJP government has been allowing religious activities in various other contexts and instances, disallowing Kashmiri Muslims to offer Eid-al-Adha prayers is a blatant discrimination,” it said.
Islamabad urged the international community, the UN and human rights organizations to take notice of the “glaring denial” of the religious rights and freedoms of Kashmiris in violation of international laws and conventions.
“India must realize that by such repressive measures, it cannot break the will of the Kashmiris and suppress their legitimate aspirations for self-determination as enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions,” it added.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China. Since it was partitioned in 1947, the India and Pakistan have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two over Kashmir.
Also, in the Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Already strained relations between the two nuclear rivals have further flared after India a scrapped decades-long special status of the disputed region last August.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighbouring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.