MIRPUR (AJK)-AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said on Tuesday that people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir owe freedom to the sacrifices of their brave and courageous ancestors.

The president made these remarks while addressing the Shuhada Conference held in honor of the great sacrifices of Sardar Sabaz Ali Khan and Milli Khan at ancient Mung Town in Sudhnoti district of AJK.

Sardar Masood Khan said it was an honor to address the gathering in the land of martyrs and Ghazis. He said that during the tyrannical Dogra regime the people of Kashmir had selflessly laid down their lives for the noble cause.

During the rebellion in the year of 1832, the great sacrifice came from Sabaz Ali Khan, Malli Khan and others who faced the oppressive Dogra forces and were eventually flayed alive, he said. That, he said, was display of absolute and extraordinary commitment and convection by the brave souls who have been the source of inspiration for the new generations. He said that the people of Mung and the rest of Kashmir have always demonstrated courage and resisted unjust regimes over the years.

The president said that the then Maharaja, despite his merciless persecution, could not break the spirit of Sabaz Ali and Milli Khan. He added that even women and children were not spared and taken to concentration camps by Gulab Singh’s army and subjected to unimaginable inhumanity. Countless innocent people lost their lives at the hands of the Dogra forces, while hundreds of women were robbed of their honor, he said.

He said that the saga of bravery and sacrifice can never be forgotten. “Our martyrs are our true heroes. The exemplary perseverance, commitment and bravery has become a beacon of hope and faith for all Kashmiris,” he said.

He said that even an oppressive regime is still in place unjustly in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He said Indian forces had illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and unleashed a new wave of terror on the unarmed innocent civilians.

India will never be able to crush the freedom struggle of the people of Kashmir, said Masood Khan. Massive human right violations are taking place at the hands of Indian occupation forces in IOK, said the President. He said young men and women are mercilessly murdered, innocent women have been dishonored, the Hurriyat leaders are jailed on trumped up charges, and peaceful protestors are pumped with lethal pellet gunfire and blinded. He added that India has evacuated locals from their homes, confiscated properties and settled people from outside of IOK in order to change the demography of the region and to further suppress the local Muslim populace.

He said that the people of Kashmir have laid down their lives and it will continue till they attain freedom. The freedom struggle is alive because of the people who have relentlessly faced the barrels and barbarity of the Indian forces.

Minister Finance AJK Dr Najeeb Naqi, Member Kashmir Council Abdul Khaliq Wasi, scholars and leaders from various political parties also addressed the gathering.

Talking to media along with Dr Sajjad Kareem, the member of European Parliament, he said European Parliament and European Union are bound by the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, European Union Human Rights Commission and EU Charter for Fundamental Rights to create space for paying attention to the promotion and protection of the human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that the European Parliament has been “a fierce defender of human rights” but when it comes to Kashmir its silence on the suffering of human rights is deafening. The situation, he said, had emerged because of India’s policy of using human rights as a bargaining chip for economic transactions. “Compromising human rights for the sake of lucrative economic deals appeases India and encourages it to escalate repressions in Kashmir. The president said that the Kashmiris’ voice for their rights would not be suppressed by such tactics but it does deepen their plight. The Kashmiris are determined to get their freedom from India as it is their fundamental right.

To a question, he said the Kashmiris with the help of Pakistan will persevere in their diplomatic and political campaign for self-determination because in the past 70 years they had shed blood of three generations. “We are trying to create a critical mass in support of Kashmir,” he said, adding that India’s intimidation of the European institutions would be exposed.

To another question, he said that Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir would succeed only when Kashmir is liberated from India’s occupation. He said efforts were being made to inform the international community that the Kashmiris were unarmed innocent civilians who are pursuing a peaceful struggle against repression and crimes against humanity being committed by the 700,000 Indian occupation forces.

He thanked Dr Sajjad Kareem for his steadfast and resolute support to the cause of Kashmir. He also thanked the United Kingdom, European Union and Pakistan-Kashmiri diaspora community for mobilising public opinion in support of Kashmir despite huge hurdles created by India.