Wakefield councillors to write to the Foreign Office and United Nations to pledge support for Kashmir

Councillors in Wakefield have agreed to write to the Foreign Office, Indian High Commissioner and the United Nations to urgently address the escalating situation in Kashmir.

A demonstration took place outside the city’s cathedral last week by the Wakefield Friends of Kashmir in response to the Indian government’s recent decision to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

And at the full council meeting, a ‘Free Kashmir’ flag was draped over the front of the gallery in the council chamber by members of the public.

Putting forward a motion on the issue, Coun Kevin Swift said: “I do think it’s wholly appropriate that this council expresses a view on the matter.

“We’ve long taken an interest in Kashmir over the years and we’ve undertaken civic visits to Kashmir. I think we should play our part flagging up this issue and expressing our support for our local community.”

Coun Swift said that the troubles in the region, which lies between undisputed Indian and Pakistani territory, could be linked to the British Empire’s exit from the area in the 1940s.

The extrication, was he said, “at best, messy, and at worst, a human catastrophe”.

Several elected members agreed and said that the people of Kashmir should have the right to self-determination.

Cabinet member Margaret Isherwood said she had attended the city centre demonstration and told the chamber how she had explained the issue to several passers-by. This, she said, showed that awareness needed to be raised.

The motion received cross party support, with Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed and Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Gordon both speaking on the subject.

Coun Ahmed said: “I think it’s important to note that there is opposition within India to the stance that their government has taken, which is good.”