Thousands of Kashmiri people observed a "black day" in Pakistani Kashmir yesterday, rallying at an event organised by Islamists against Indian "brutalities" and occupation of the Himalayan region.
The rally was set up by the United Jihad Council (UJC) - made up of 16 Islamist groups, militant outfits and political parties - and was attended by jihadi groups including Hizb-ul-Mujahidin and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Both Washington and New Delhi blame LeT for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which left 166 people dead and derailed a peace process between India and Pakistan.
A crowd of about 3,000 people shouted "al-Jihad", "Allahu akbar [God is great]" and "We want freedom" as they gathered in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
"Diplomacy, talks and negotiations spanned over several decades have not worked," UJC chairman Syed Salahuddin said. "The only way to liberate Kashmir is jihad and armed struggle because India does not understand the language of dialogue," said Salahuddin, who also leads the militant Hizbul Mujahedin, which fights Indian rule.
The protesters waved black flags and shouted: "Our struggle will continue until Kashmir is freed", and condemned Indian "brutalities", as Salahuddin appealed to Pakistan to fully support Kashmiri independence.