Protesters demand release of Hafiz Saeed, set Trump, Modi effigy on fire

Top Kashmiri  commander Syed Salahuddin called upon Islamabad to reverse its order placing Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, calling the move “painful and cowardly”.

Saeed has been detained under Section 11-EEE(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1977, a notification issued by the interior ministry said. The move came after years of pressure on Pakistan to put Saeed on trial, and could potentially ease recently escalating tensions with neighbour and arch-foe India.

Salahuddin, chairman of United Jihad Council (UJC), said in a statement that, “Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has not only been urging the international community to break its criminal silence on Kashmir, but he has also been exposing the atrocities of India’s imperialistic regime.”

He said the move not only sent “a negative and disappointing message” to the people living in India-held Kashmir, but it also showed “Pakistan’s weak role in the ongoing freedom struggle” of Kashmiris.

The UJC has gathered around a dozen militant groups who are fighting Indian rule in occupied Kashmir. JuD’s militant wing, Lashkar-e-Taiba, has an observer status in the conglomerate.

“The present stage of the freedom movement demands of the Pakistani nation and leadership to rise above all compulsions and fears, and stand with the Kashmiris with a firm position,” he said.

Read more: Pakistan isolated because it gives freedom to non-state actors, Aitzaz tells joint session

The UJC chief asked the government of Pakistan to immediately end Saeed’s house arrest and “let him make his contributions and raise his peaceful voice for freedom of held Kashmir.”

Salahuddin’s reaction came amid a series of protest demonstrations in Muzaffarabad against United States President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “pressuring Islamabad to take decision against JuD chief”.

In one such demonstration on Wednesday, demonstrators held an effigy, whereupon portraits of Trump and Modi and flags of US and India were affixed. The effigy and a banner with portraits of the duo and flags of both countries were torched afterwards.

They were also carrying several banners and placards, inscribed with pro-JuD chief slogans.

“House arrest of Hafiz Saeed to please India is unacceptable,” read a big banner on behalf of the victims of Indian shelling along the Line of Control (LoC).

“Hafiz Saeed is an advocate of the Kashmiris across the globe. He has supported us and he has been supporting us in our testing times. I wonder why has this become a sin in the eyes of Islamabad and other governments,” said Mohammad Zaman, one of the demonstrators.

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