City council bans Kashmir martyr rally in poster row
A BIRMINGHAM rally to commemorate the death of a Kashmiri separatist leader has been banned just days before it was due to take place.
Supporters of the late Burhan Wani – shot dead by security forces a year ago – had been granted permission for a memorial rally outside Birmingham’s Council House this Saturday, sparking a complaint by the Indian authorities.
But, at the last minute, organisers have been told that the city council has pulled the plug on the event.
Wani, 22, was killed during an encounter with Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region on July 8, 2016. The 22-year-old was the commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, which is designated a terrorist organisation by India, the EU and the US.
His death in Indian-controlled Northern Kashmir sparked violent protests, leaving dozens more dead.
Wani was popular among Kashmiris due to his activity on social media, where he campaigned against Indian rule in Kashmir.
Widespread protests erupted after his death, causing unrest for nearly half a year, during which more than 90 people died and 15,000 civilians and 4,000 security personnel were injured. Kashmir was placed under 53 consecutive days of curfew.
Birmingham City Council initially gave permission for the memorial rally, named in Wani’s honour, to be held in Victoria Square on Saturday.
Posters circulated on social media advertising the event carried a picture of the late commander and said: “We will take back what is ours forcefully. We will not rest until Kashmir is free from Kuffars and hoist the flag of Islamic Ummah.”
The council withdrew its backing and cancelled the gathering after concerns were raised about the posters, and the Indian government made an official objection.
A council spokesman said: “We took a booking for a peaceful rally highlighting the human rights abuse in Kashmir. However, we are now aware of concerns raised about the promotional leaflet and, having assessed the material, have not given permission for the use of Victoria Square.”
Reports in India said that Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK, Dinesh Patnaik, lodged a formal complaint to the Foreign Office, saying: “Allowing anti-India elements to flourish here in the name of democracy will not do.”
Organisers of the proposed rally were last night unavailable for comment.
> Burhan Wani was shot dead a year ago
> The controversial poster