A curfew has been imposed across Indian Kashmir just two days before the first anniversary of New Delhi’s abolition of the restive region’s semi-autonomy, officials said late Monday, citing intelligence reports of looming protests.
“These restrictions shall come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force on 4th and 5th August,” stated the government order issued for the main city of Srinagar.
Kashmir curfew in full force
“Full curfew will be enforced in all Kashmir districts,” a senior police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told.
A “full curfew” means people can only move around with an official pass, usually reserved for essential services like police and medical professionals.
The Himalayan region is already subject to restrictions to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus amid a jump in infections, with most economic activities limited and public movement curtailed.
The order said the separate virus lockdown would be extended until August 8.
India imposes curfew in #Kashmir ahead of clampdown anniversary
"These restrictions shall come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force on 4th and 5th Aug," stated the gov't order issued for the main city of #Srinagar. #LetKashmirSpeakhttps://t.co/zJkS14Q0Vm
— So-Star (@SoStarMusic) August 4, 2020
Police vehicles fitted with megaphones patrolled Srinagar after dark, with officers ordering residents to remain indoors for the next two days.
India tightens security in Kashmir
Authorities have been tightening restrictions across the Kashmir valley since the weekend of August 1.
Early Monday morning, new razor-wire and steel barricades were used to block the city’s main roads.
Residents in other major towns and many villages told that police also ordered them not to venture out of their homes until Thursday.
The curfew is similar to the one introduced just before Kashmir’s semi-autonomy was stripped on August 5.
A total communications blackout was imposed, with phone and internet lines cut and tens of thousands of fresh troops moved into the valley in one of the world’s most militarised regions.
The curfew came as Kashmiris called for August 5 to be observed as a "black day".
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“Police went around in jeeps ordering everyone not to leave their homes just like this time last year,” a resident in the southern Kashmir valley region of Kulgam, who asked to remain anonymous, told.
The curfew came as Kashmiris called for August 5 to be observed as a “black day”.
Anger across Muslim-majority Kashmir against India’s Hindu-nationalist government has been growing since last year, particularly over the granting of rights — once reserved for Kashmiris — to tens of thousands of people from outside of the region to buy land.
Kashmir has waged a three-decade-long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.
Kashmiris deprived of basic rights
For locals, the new curfew brought back memories of the weeks-long clampdown a year ago.
Then, a total communications blackout was imposed, with phone and internet access cut and tens of thousands of fresh troops moved into the valley — already one of the world’s most militarised regions.
Around 7,000 people were taken into custody — including three former chief ministers. Hundreds remain under house arrest or behind bars to this day, mostly without charge.
Kashmir has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full. it has been the spark for two wars between the arch-rivals.
For Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, Kashmir’s special status had produced “nothing but terrorism, separatism, nepotism and big corruption,” he said last year.
The move, which has been accompanied by an upsurge in violence that is set to make 2020 the bloodiest year in a decade, has triggered major economic hardship exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many locals are also angry that for the first time, people from outside Kashmir are being granted rights to buy land, fearing that India wants to change the region’s demographic makeup.
“Indian government claims that it was determined to improve Kashmiri lives ring hollow one year after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status,” Meenakshi Ganguly from Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
“The authorities instead have maintained stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights.”
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk