A paramilitary soldier stands guard at a checkpoint during the one-year anniversary of the restive region being stripped of its autonomy in Srinagar. AFP
With a heavy deployment of troops and barricades of barbed wire, India put Kashmir under the strictest lockdown in several months on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the Himalayan region's loss of autonomy.
Streets in the Kashmir's main city of Srinagar were deserted, with armed paramilitary and police manning roadblocks to enforce a lockdown that was initially imposed on Tuesday to prevent any violent protests.
Top police officer Vijay Kumar said security agencies had received intelligence reports of a suicide attack or attempts to target politicians, and that restrictions would be further tightened on Wednesday.
"We are monitoring the situation," he told.
Jammu and kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, was stripped of its special rights last August and divided into two federally-administered territories in an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw the restive region closer to the rest of the country.
The move was accompanied by a communication blackout, widespread movement restrictions and mass detentions, including those of elected leaders. Some of the measures have been eased, although internet speeds are still restricted and most families remain indoors because of coronavirus-related lockdowns.
But Modi's promise to rapidly develop the region is yet to pick up pace, partly hamstrung by the coronavirus outbreak.
"Forget about development and creating new employment opportunities, thousands of daily-wagers, casual labourers, scheme workers and others have been denied wages for months," former leftist lawmaker Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said.
The August decision was also condemned by Pakistan which has called for protests in solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
Both countries claim the region in full but rule in parts, and have gone to war twice over the territory.
Sajjad Ahmad, 37, said he tried to visit his critically-ill father in a Srinagar hospital on Tuesday but was not allowed by police and paramilitary troops.
Ahmad said these were the strictest restrictions he had seen since August last year. "There are barricades everywhere," he said.
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."
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said based on its review of results of a study by UK researchers, it concluded that dexamethasone - a commonly used drug against a range of inflammatory conditions - can be considered a treatment option in adults and adolescents needing oxygen therapy.
Taiwan scrambled fighter jets on Friday as 18 Chinese aircraft buzzed the island, including crossing the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, in an escalation of tensions as a senior US official held talks in Taipei.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed and another was wounded after Kurdish militants fired rockets at a military base in northern Iraq, Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Friday.