(Protesters marching down Douglas Street/Photo by Victoria Buzz)

On Saturday, dozens of people in Victoria organized a rally to protest human rights violations conducted by the Indian government in Kashmir.

The rally, which was advertised as non-partisan, invited all Canadians to participate in taking a stance against Indian occupation of the contested state of Kashmir, that had until recently been afforded special status for the past 70 years.

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On August 5th, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370, removing Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status which has been in place ever since the country gained independence from British rule in 1947.

According to publications such as BBC and the New York Times, Indian forces have since cut off internet and phone services in the region, and rounded up 2,000 Kashmiri intellectuals who have been detained without being formally charged.

People living in India’s only Muslim-majority state have been protesting these measures ever since they were first announced a month ago, while soldiers use tear gas and buckshot to quell the crowds.

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The Indian army has also been accused of violence and torture against civilians – allegations that they and the government have denied.

Few pieces of information from the region has been forthcoming due to the communications blackout and media restrictions imposed by the government.

According to the latest BBC article on the subject, the Indian Supreme Court is set to hear a total of 14 petitions against the federal government’s decision to revoke Article 370 for Kashmir.

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In Victoria, protestors accompanied by a single Victoria police cruiser marched from the Masjid Al-Iman mosque to the cenotaph at the Legislature grounds on Saturday.

“This is the time to stand in support of oppressed Kashmiris when they are locked down in curfew for more than 29 days now, with no access to even basic necessities,” reads the event description.

The peaceful demonstration ended without incident at 4 p.m.