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Protests, fear, gunfire in Kashmir after India strips autonomy

August 6, 2019
 

Fear gripped Indian Kashmir Tuesday as residents leaving the restive territory spoke of a tense military crackdown and protests breaking out against the shock government move to scrap its autonomous status.

At least six people were injured in protests that erupted after a presidential decree on Monday removed the Muslim-majority region’s special status, sources said.

A hospital in the main city of Srinagar had admitted six patients with gunshot wounds or other injuries caused by non-lethal weapons, a source at the facility said on condition of anonymity.

The Himalayan region has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country after authorities took down phone and internet services ahead of Monday’s announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Public gatherings and rallies have also been banned.

In some of the first observations reported from the cut-off communities, passengers who arrived at India’s capital New Delhi on flights from Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir, spoke of the uneasy mood in the state.

A traveller, who asked to remain anonymous, said he heard intermittent gunfire and other weapons being fired since Monday, soldiers shouting during the night, and saw government troops deployed “every five steps”.

“My car was checked at least 25 times on the way to the airport and it took me almost four hours to cover a distance of hardly 30 minutes,” he told AFP.

Mubeen Masoodi, who also arrived Tuesday from Srinagar, said he was at a wedding on Sunday night when suddenly the revellers realised their phones were no longer working.

“While we were having our food (around) midnight, that is when the phones one by one went (off)… and that’s when people realised something big is happening and everyone just rushed back home,” he said.

Another plane passenger, Farooq Sheikh, told the Press Trust of India that he felt “caged inside in our own city”.

“Our mobile phone connection has been snapped, internet shut, even cable TVs and landlines are down. We felt like we were caged, or being jailed in our own home, our own city,” he said.

Sanna Wani, a Kashmiri poet, took to Twitter to describe the fear and panic gripping Srinagar before she managed to get a flight out.

She said even those residents citing medical emergencies were not allowed to get past a security checkpoint.

The stories of apprehension felt by Kashmiri residents came as UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville said the communications blackout and security clampdown were deeply concerning.

“We are seeing, again, blanket telecommunications restrictions, perhaps more blanket than we have ever seen before, the reported arbitrary detention of political leaders and restrictions on peaceful assembly,” he told reporters in Geneva Tuesday.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been in the grip of a rebellion against Indian rule since 1989.

The region has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947, and the two sides have conflicting claims on the territory, over which they have fought two wars.

New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of fresh troops to the picturesque conflict-ridden valley — already the most militarised region in the world — earlier this month in anticipation of unrest over the decision.

Authorities have denied reports of protests and said the region was peaceful after the announcement.

State police chief Dilbagh Singh told Indian television channels that “people have been very co-operative and not a single incident of violence has been reported”.

The seven-decades-old constitutional provision that was scrapped allowed only locals to buy land in the region and gave the state a separate flag and a constitution.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Anonymous   August 6, 2019 11:12 pm/ Reply

    Spreading wrong news about India is become your prime agenda and shows last year images in your country that would not be impact upon us stayaway from our internal matter we send our security forces there to keep their safety and making peace there.

    • Avatar
      Hassan   August 8, 2019 1:13 pm/ Reply

      ON a HIGHLY MILITARIZED TERATORY ON THE EARTH called Kashmir. Upon which two nations fought two wars and continuing conflicts for decades… The world clearly know through open media when ever Kashmirs dies in hands of Indian forces.
      How in the world can one ever say that its India’s Internal matter and not the matter of people of Kashmir.
      Kindly read you governments Constitution Article 370 below before making any judgement .
      The constitution was adopted on 17 November 1956, and came into effect on 26 January 1957. As of 2002, 29 amendments were made to the Constitution.[1]
      Article 370 of the Constitution of India stated that Parliament of India and the Union government jurisdiction extends over limited matters with respect to State of Jammu and Kashmir, and in all other matters not specifically vested in Federal government, actions have to be supported by state legislature.[2][3] Also, unlike other states, residual powers were vested in state government.
      Because of these constitutional provisions, the State of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special but temporary status as mentioned in Part XXI of the Constitution of India. Among notable and visible differences with other states, till 1965, the head of state in Jammu and Kashmir was called Sadr-i-Riyasat (Head of State) whereas in other state, the title was Governor, and the head of government was called Prime Minister in place of Chief Minister in other states.

  2. Avatar
    Abbas   August 8, 2019 1:20 pm/ Reply

    Dear. Anonymous,

    Firstly how in the world you say its internal matter for India, when you jam internet , phone and all sort of connetions of Kashmiri people wth the outside world.
    secondly, today’s media clearly shows thousands of videos of cruelty by Indian forces in Kashmir. Is that any kind of protection of people or a genocide going back to decades.
    Nothing is new dear. First do read your constitution and history related to Kashmir State then make any judgement.

  3. Avatar
    Anonymous   August 8, 2019 5:22 pm/ Reply

    Pakistan is not the one spreading wrong news about your little country. Your country spreads wrong news about Pakistan. If you don’t believe me, ask abhinandan. People like you blindly believe your criminal Indian media who has lies all the damn time. Your government did not send troops to Kashmir to maintain peace but instead to kill innocent Muslims because those Muslims want to be with Pakistan. Shame on you people!

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