Lockdown continues in occupied Kashmir for 14th consecutive day

Indian authorities ease some restrictions on movement and restore landline telephone links


Lockdown continued for a 14th consecutive day in occupied Kashmir to prevent people from holding demonstrations against India’s move to revoke the special status of the occupied valley.
Hundreds of people on Friday defied the curfew and took to the streets in Srinagar after prayers to express their resentment against New Delhi’s move of revoking Article 370 of the Indian constitution that granted special status to the territory.
The Indian occupying forces have been maintaining a strict curfew in the valley since August 5 when the Narendra Modi government announced to scrap the special status of occupied Kashmir.
Communication blackout continued in the valley for a 14th day as tens of thousands of Indian troops have enforced a strict curfew, which includes no internet or phone services while allowing only limited movement in the streets.
Residents have been confined to their houses due to stringent restrictions amid all the communication links of the territory with the outside world snapped by the authorities.
Hurriyat leaders including All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Gilani and chairman of Hurriyat forum Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been under house arrest or in jail, with over 900 political leaders and workers lodged in makeshift detention centres.
Meanwhile Indian authorities eased restrictions on movement and restored landline telephone links in some parts of occupied Kashmir on Saturday, the biggest relaxation in a crippling lockdown since New Delhi removed the region’s special status on Aug 5. The moves came even as there were celebrations and protests by Kashmiris opposed to the Indian policy in Srinagar on Friday night. The celebrations were to mark the first United Nations Security Council meeting about the Kashmir issue for about five decades.
Two police officials and a series of eyewitnesses told Reuters that demonstrations and celebrations took place in various parts of Srinagar.
However, the number of incidents of local residents pelting security forces with stones were low compared with recent days, said a security official who toured Srinagar in the morning.
A witness said that hundreds marched in the Rajouri Kadal area of Srinagar and they also let off some fire crackers. They shouted pro-Pakistani and anti-India slogans during the celebrations, two witnesses said. For the first time since the Indian government revoked occupied Kashmir’s rights to set some of its own laws, police vans didn’t announce imposition of a virtual curfew in Srinagar.
The authorities deny there has been a curfew in the past two weeks but on many occasions people have been ordered to stay indoors.
India has battled a 30-year revolt in occupied Kashmir in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke the region’s autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.
The change will allow non-residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir state and end the practice of reserving state government jobs for local residents.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said the revocation of Kashmir’s special status was necessary to ensure its full integration into India and speed up development. The government in Indian-occupied Kashmir said that restrictions had been lifted by 35 of the 100 or so police stations across the Kashmir valley, though it wasn’t immediately clear what this meant.
It said that most of the telephone exchanges for fixed-line phones will be working by Sunday night.—Agencies

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