Demonstration at Rochdale cenotaph calls for Kashmir to be freed

Date published: 23 August 2019

A demonstration calling for the freedom of Kashmir took place at the cenotaph in Rochdale on Wednesday morning (21 August).

People came together to show solidarity with the people of Jammu Kashmir, after the Indian government recently decided to strip the Indian-administered state of autonomy after seven decades, meaning it can no longer make its own decisions, and will have to abide by the Indian constitution.

Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan by the Line of Control in 1947: the northern territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are Pakistani-administered, whereas the southern territory Jammu and Kashmir is Indian-administered.

Speeches were given by many over a tannoy system, including a number of local councillors, as British Kashmiris gathered with flags, banners and placards.

Leader of Rochdale Borough Council Allen Brett pledged his, and the council’s, support for Kashmir, saying he would raise it with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Mayor Andy Burnham.

He added: “It’s sad they can’t decide for themselves what goes on. If they were free, British aid and development would flock in and the standard of living would go up.

“You have my support and I hope to get the support of the other leaders.”

Councillor Brett has been contacted for further comment.


Councillor Allen Brett, speaking at the protest
Councillor Allen Brett, speaking at the protest


However, complaints have been received about Wednesday’s protest, calling the chosen location “disrespectful.”

One said: “As an ex-Fusilier and member of the Royal British Legion, I feel I have to say that the cenotaph in Rochdale is no place to hold a demonstration.

“Let's have some respect shown.”

Another agreed: “Could this not have been done somewhere else?”

A council spokesman said: “The council expects all events at the cenotaph and other war memorials to be respectful and mindful of the purpose for which these memorials were created, which is to allow people to reflect in a dignified way on the enormous sacrifices others have made for our freedoms.

“Members of the council who attended the event held at Rochdale Cenotaph on 21 August have said that they felt let down by the behaviour of some in attendance and we are therefore contacting the organisers to remind them of their responsibilities.” 

The spokesman confirmed the council was given advance notice of the demonstration, gave advice to the organisers about how it should be conducted and suggested the demonstration take place on the area around the Gracie Fields statue.

Read more about the situation in Kashmir

Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters

Article 35A: Why a special law on Kashmir is controversial

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