SRINAGAR, India – Residents of Indian Kashmir denounced on Sunday a high number of detentions following a central government decision to revoke the region’s special status earlier in the month.
“The number of arrested persons only in the old town area of Srinagar is alarming, I can tell you with confidence that whosoever could influence even four or five persons has been put behind bars,” Riyaz Ahmad Wani, a resident of Nowhatta, near Srinagar, told EFE.
Political leaders like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are among the most high-profile arrests, official sources confirmed on the condition of anonymity.
But according to Wani, students, shopkeepers and cricket players have been detained alongside political activists.
The resident said he helped reunite a two-year-old child with his father, Nissar Ahmad, who had been detained in a recent raid instead of his nephew, according to his relatives.
“I pleaded with the in charge officer at the police station to allow the kid to see his father once after I came to know that he is so closely attached with his father and is missing him,” Wani said.
His dad was brought out of his cell “to see his small son whom he held tightly in his arms and kissed him repeatedly before he was again taken away.”
The authorities said on Saturday that restrictions had been eased.
Locals with whom EFE spoke say they remain confined to their neighborhoods amid a strong military presence, and that barricades have been set up to restrict their movement.
Some areas of Srinagar have seen violent protests, especially on evenings once the security forces have left, and Medical Institute doctors told EFE that they had received five injured people on Friday, among whom three had pellet wounds around their eyes.
The government has highlighted a lack of protests in the streets of Kashmir, with “the situation is peaceful and normal” appearing in official statements.
Authorities have announced that schools will reopen from Monday.
Pakistan and India have fought two wars over Kashmir, with both staking their own territorial claims over the region in its entirety.
Tensions were ratcheted up between the neighboring countries earlier in the month after India withdrew Kashmir’s special status.