Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in Indian-Administered Kashmir, with tourists being told to evacuate the area and senior leaders being placed under house arrest.
“There shall be no movement of public. All educational institutions shall also remain closed. There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required,” reads an Indian government order. However, it says there is “no curfew in place”.
Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code has been imposed in the area and former chief ministers and pro-India leaders Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were placed under house arrest.
How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people & their voices are being muzzled in J&K. The same Kashmir that chose a secular democratic India is facing oppression of unimaginable magnitude. Wake up India
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 4, 2019
I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight & the process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is then I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us 🙏🏼
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 4, 2019
Both leaders urged people to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands. Communications were cut, with private mobile networks, internet services and telephone landlines cut, an AFP reporter said.
The latest tensions started in the last 10 days after New Delhi deployed at least 10,000 troops. A security source told AFP a further 70,000 had been deployed, which is believed to be an unprecedented level. The government has introduced other security measures over terror threat claims — including a call to stock up food and fuel.
The measures have sparked growing panic among residents, who formed long queues outside petrol stations, food stores and cash machines.
A heavy presence of troops was seen in parts of Srinagar as gunshots sounded, although the streets remained empty, local residents told AFP.
In downtown Srinagar, government forces threw “chili bombs” that affect respiratory systems onto the deserted streets, a local resident said, while a senior official told AFP that nearly 300 administrative officials and top security officials had been issued with satellite phones.
According to Al Jazeera, residents fear New Delhi is planning to engineer “demographic changes” in India’s only Muslim-majority region by scrapping a law that prohibits outsiders from buying land in the area. Article 35A of the Indian Constitution grants Indian-Administered Kashmir special status and has been the subject of debate recently. The ruling BJP and its allies have challenged the article in the Supreme Court.
Al Jazeera also noted that last month, a senior BJP leader hinted that the government was planning to form exclusive Hindu settlements in the region.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani issued a statement on Sunday, calling on Kashmiris to use “unity and brotherhood” to fight “India’s aggression”.
Eleven Kashmiris were also killed on the Pakistan side of Kashmir. Pakistan has accused India of using cluster ammunition along the Line of Control. On Sunday, it released evidence in the form of pictures and videos of the bombs in civilian settlements. UN observers also visited the bomb sites