An Indian paramilitary soldier patrols during a security lockdown after the Indian government stripped the Himalayan state’s semi-autonomous powers in Kashmir.
Authorities have clamped a curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir ahead of the first anniversary of New Delhi's decision to revoke the disputed region’s semi-autonomy.
Authorities clamped a curfew in many parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, a day ahead of the first anniversary of India’s controversial decision to revoke the disputed region’s semi-autonomy.
Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, a civil administrator, said the security lockdown was clamped in the region’s main city of Srinagar in view of information about protests planned by anti-India groups to mark Aug. 5 as "black day.”
Police and paramilitary soldiers drove through neighborhoods and went to people’s homes warning them to stay indoors. Government forces erected steel barricades and laid razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections.
The curfew will be enforced Tuesday and Wednesday, Choudhary said in a government order.
"A series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and protesters are planning to observe August 5 as Black Day and violent action or protests are not ruled out,” he said.
Last year on August 5, India’s Hindu-nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi downgraded Jammu-Kashmir state and divided it into two federally governed territories. Since then, New Delhi has brought in a slew of new laws which locals say are aimed at shifting the demographics in the Muslim-majority region, many of whom want independence from India.
After the Aug. 5 decision, Indian authorities enforced an information blackout and a harsh security clampdown in Kashmir for months. Thousands of Kashmiri youth, pro-freedom leaders and politicians who have traditionally supported Indian rule were arrested. Hundreds of them are still incarcerated.
As some of the restrictions were eased, India enforced another harsh lockdown in March to combat the spread of the coronavirus, deepening the social and economic crisis in the restive region.
Human Rights Watch asked that India reverse its "abusive policies” in the region and said it was dismayed India persisted with "its repression of Kashmiri Muslims” despite the pandemic forcing the world to address discrimination and inequality.
"Indian government claims that it was determined to improve Kashmiri lives ring hollow one year after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, the global rights group’s South Asia director, in the statement made Tuesday. "The authorities instead have maintained stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights.”Associated Press
The call to join protests on Friday repeated earlier demands from Khan for Pakistanis to begin holding weekly nationwide rallies until the prime minister departs for the United Nations General Assembly next month, where he vowed to act as an ambassador for all Kashmiris.
The decision comes at a time of high tension between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
At least 12 locals and six troops were injured on Saturday evening, officials told Reuters, as the worshippers on the traditional mourning procession of Muharram clashed with troops trying to stop it.
"I want to give this message to Kashmiris that we stand by you and will continue to do so. It is sad that your independence struggle was presented as terrorism. Kashmir is our jugular vein and we will go to any lengths to protect it."
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