ISLAMABAD/ MUZAFFARABAD     -   A group of US Senators yesterday urged India to lift curfew in Occupied Kashmir and release all prisoners while authorities in Azad Kashmir blocked a march by thousands of protesters who wanted to move toward the highly militarised Line of Control.

The US Senators said that they shared the human rights concerns and would continue to urge India to ensure human rights in the held valley.

The high-level US Congressional delegation comprising Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan along with their staffers and US Ambassador Paul Jones visited Muzaffarabad earlier in the day.

The purpose of the visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiments following the August 5 illegal Indian actions in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The US lawmakers expressed their resolve to remain engaged for the resolution of the dispute.

A detailed briefing on the current situation on the Line of Control was given by a senior Army officer. The delegation also called on AJK President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, said a foreign ministry statement.

The AJK leadership thanked the two Senators for the visit and appreciated their support for the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The US delegation was apprised of the historical background of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the deteriorating situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in wake of prolonged curfew and suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms particularly since August 5.

The AJK leadership expressed the hope that delegation’s visit to AJK would help them have first-hand information, understanding the prevailing humanitarian crisis in the held Kashmir and explaining the ground situation to their colleagues on the Capitol Hill and in the Administration upon return to the United States.

It was noted that the Indian government’s policy of denial to allow neutral observers to visit the occupied Jammu and Kashmir had exposed the specious India’s “all is well” propaganda.

Both President Masood Khan and Prime Minister Farooq Haider urged the US Senators to play their role in saving the people of held Kashmir from India’s repressive brutal measures and pressing India to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“Among other things, they also shared the vision and priorities of AJK government, which were focused on governance, rule of law and development,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, Azad Kashmir police blocked a march Sunday by thousands of protesters who wanted to move toward the highly militarised Line of Control. The marchers were protesting the lockdown in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Police placed shipping containers on the road and deployed a large contingent of officers near Jaskool, 8 kilometres from the frontier to stop the supporters of the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, which announced it intended to cross the frontier to help Kashmiris under Indian oppression.

India imposed a strict curfew on Aug 5 after stripping Occupied Kashmir of its statehood.

Abdul Hameed Butt, a leader of the JKLF, said the protesters would stage a sit-in until the blockade was removed.

The JKLF march, termed the “Freedom March” began Friday and reached the blockade after two overnight stops.

Police officer Arshad Naqvi said protesters won’t be allowed to continue because of the threat of “unprovoked enemy fire” from the Indian side.

“We want to go and (the Pakistani administration) should let us go to help our people,” said Tahir Hussain, a college student.

Also on Sunday, the main religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, held a protest march in Lahore with thousands protesting against the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.