Black Day: Why many in Kashmir regard India's Independence Day as a tragedy

Black Day: Kashmiris protest against India's Independence Day

Some are protesting against Independence Day

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

For the world's second-most populous country, today has largely been a day of pride and celebration, of good vibes and happy memories.

But in one particular province on its northern border, the 'celebration' is widely seen as a sick joke, its basis a tragic irony.

For many in Kashmir, India's Independence Day is in fact a monument to subjugation, dredging up memories of horror. For these people, Independence Day is instead known as 'Black Day', the saddest day on the calendar.

Once a princely state, Kashmir is today one of the most militarised zones in the world. The mountainous region lies on the border of India and Pakistan and has been the subject of constant squabbling in the two countries.

Around 45% of Kashmir lies under Indian control, with Pakistan holding around 35% and China administering the rest. However both India and Pakistan claim ownership of the entire region: India because the Kashmiri Maharajah pledged loyalty to Delhi in 1947, Pakistan because the majority of the Kashmiri population is Muslim. The countries have fought three separate wars over this dispute, and thousands have died in the process.

Today the question seems no closer to being resolved. And thousands of Muslims feel they have been cut off, left stranded on the wrong side of the boundary. In the Kashmir Valley, a large stretch of land in the Indian-administered zone, 96% of the population is Muslim.

This is the root of 'Black Day': Kashmiris believe they deserved the right to be liberated, and want to raise attention to what they see as a cruel irony.

To demonstrate this view, the separatists are wearing black armbands on their arms to express their views. Black flags will also be flown on the top of buildings. The protests are taking place on both sides of the line of control (LOC) which divides the Indian and Pakistani zones.

Raja Farooq Akram, the chairman of the National Events Organising Committee told APP: “Anti-India rallies followed by protest demonstrations in all small and major cities and towns at both sides of the LOC, will be the hallmark of the day.”

A strike has also been called today (August 15) by three Kashmiri resistance leaders: Syed Ali Gilani, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Kashmir. The leaders said: “We are not against the freedom of any country and will provide them a chance to decide the future by allowing independent plebiscite in Kashmir, till then it doesn’t have any moral and constitutional right to organise the freedom celebrations in the territory."

However Daily Pakistan reports that internet services and phone lines in Kashmir have been cut off in an attempt to stop protests from taking place. Which is sure to inflame tensions further in one of the world's most combustible powderkegs.

Take a look at the reaction on Twitter below