A PASSIONATE debate in Bradford City Hall saw members of all political parties condemn the violence currently taking place in Kashmir.

Several Councillors with Kashmiri heritage gave emotional speeches detailing the plight of people living in the disputed area, and called for the UK government to do more to tackle the issue.

A six hour meeting of the full Council on Tuesday evening saw two separate motions calling for the Council to condemn human rights violations currently happening in the area.

Although there have been issues in the area, between India and Pakistan, singe partition in 1947, in August the area was once again flung into the public eye when India removed Kashmir’s partial autonomy, leading to violence, mass arrests of Kashmiris and a communications blackout in the area.

Hundreds attend Kashmir protest in Centenary Square

A large amount of Bradford’s Asian population have links to the area, and there have been a number of protests against what many have claimed to be human rights violations carried out by the Indian Government in recent weeks.

Councillor Naveed Riaz (Cons, Bingley Rural) said: “The escalation of violence since August 5 is particularly alarming. The communications lockdown is particularly disturbing, especially for people with family members living in Kashmir who are not able to know what is happening in the area.

“I call on the Council to condemn the human rights violations happening.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said: I can’t imagine the pain many people in Bradford feel not being able to contact their friends, families and loved ones in that area. At what point will the international community come together to stop the suffering of innocents? At what point will our leaders say ‘enough is enough?’ This is a crisis of human rights.”

Councillor John Pennington, Conservative Leader in Bradford, said: “Where is the UN in all this, they seem to be quite quiet?”

A Kashmir campaigner in the public gallery shouted “Where’s Boris?”

Councillor Kamran Hussain (Lab, Toller) said: “As a Councillor of Kashmiri heritage this is close to my heart. The Indian Government has committed an act of provocation against the people of Kashmir and those who fight for self determination. They are stopping the outside world from seeing what is going on.

“The UK government has failed to admonish the Indian government.”

Councillor Sinead Engel (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green) said: “I think, if I had been born at the same time but in Kashmir, what would my life be like? I might not be able to get medicine for my children, or I might have seen them beaten or detained. This is not a Kashmir issue, it is a human issue.”

Councillor Nazam Azam (Lab, City) compared the issue to if England, Scotland and Wales came together to determine the future of Scotland without asking the people of Scotland.”

Councillor Khadim Hussain (Ind, Keighley Central) said: “We must press the UN for a resolution. India should be the largest democracy in the world.

“The world was quick to impose sanctions on Turkey, but 73 days have gone by since the escalation in Kashmir and there hasn’t been a single word of condemnation. We have a moral obligation to stand side by side with the people of Kashmir.”

Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) said many within the Indian and Sikh communities had stood with the Kashmiri community. He added: “Shame on the British government for staying silent on this.”

Other Councillors pointed out the importance of condemning all international human rights abuses, including in Yemen and Syria.

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “This is absolutely something we should be discussing in this chamber. Many of our residents are concerned about their families’ safety. I think today we have done out job to raise this issue, now it is up to the international community to do theirs.”

The Council then voted to approve a motion calling for the Government to commit to supporting the Kashmiri people’s right of self-determination, and call on the Indian Government to restore all communications to the region.

The motion adds: “This motion is in no way a reflection on the Indian community in Bradford. We value their social and economic contribution to the district as Bradfordians.”

In total 15 motions were discussed during the six hour meeting, on issues ranging from mental health services in Bradford to parking in Ilkley.