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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

India Represses Kashmir Protests While Remaining Incommunicado

SRINAGAR, India – Indian security forces repressed thousands of Kashmir demonstrators protesting the abolition of autonomy the region maintained for 70 years.

Thousands of people took to the streets in the Soura area of Srinagar city, after the population, mostly Muslim, finished prayers on Friday afternoon.

Police used teargas and pellets to disperse the massive demonstration, leaving a number of people injured, witnesses told Efe.

Staff at the Srinagar Medical Institute said that they had treated at least three people who were injured in the demonstration.

Local authorities told Efe that did not have any available information on casualties.

Information about the protests has been contained during the past week by a cut of communications, with only a few images and reports published in the media that managed to circumvent the blockade.

Restrictions keep journalists at least one kilometer away from the area that houses most of the local newspaper offices in Srinagar.

The area has been in lockdown since Monday in a bid to contain reaction to the decision by New Delhi to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Local state radio announced that restrictions have been lifted from the Jammu district, which is a Hindu majority.

It was the first time that Kashmir has been subjected to harsh measures for such a long period.

Similar controls were imposed during months of protests that in 2016 left more than one hundred dead, but this time it has been worse, inhabitants of the region told Efe.

The nearly 25,000 security agents guarding Indian Kashmir continue to operate using satellite connections.

Rubbish has accumulated in the streets in the absence of municipal workers, while thousands of armed soldiers have been deployed in a bid to control the situation.

Residents have been forced to go to police stations to use telephone lines that are still connected to communicate with relatives outside the region.

“Kashmir has returned to the stone age,” a woman from the police headquarters told Efe.

A week ago, the authorities asked tourists and visitors to leave Kashmir immediately over alleged terrorist threats linked to Pakistani groups, interrupting a pilgrimage of more than 5,000 Hindus who had traveled to a mountain in the Himalayas.

Three days after evacuating the territory and cutting communications, the government announced the presidential order in parliament.

According to the new legislation, Jammu and Kashmir will become a centrally-ruled union territory with a legislature that has limited powers.

The Indian Government said on Friday that it has not yet decided on a date to end the restrictions in Kashmir.

The decision by New Delhi increased animosity with Pakistan, which disputes control of the region after its independence from the British Empire and over which they have fought two wars.

Kashmir’s special status goes back to 1947, after the partition of British India into India and Pakistan it was given certain privileges after the region’s last autocratic ruler decided to join the Indian union on condition of granting the state its special rights.

 

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