Kashmir dispute: India’s clampdown enters 13th day as anger grows

SRI NAGAR, Aug 17 (INP): Seeking to tighten its grip on the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi-led Hindu national Indian government has not lifted the stringent curfew that entered thirteenth day on Saturday since revocation of articles 370 and 35A which had secured special status for the people of the Muslim-majority state under Indian oppression.

However, after Friday prayers yesterday, thousands of Kashmiris including women, children and elderly persons flooded the streets of Kashmir’s summer capital while chanting full-throat slogans of “return India” and “Indian Constitution unacceptable.”

Telephone and internet links have been suspended and public assembly has been banned in Kashmir from the last 13 days in the state.

Sources familiar with the matter told the media that Indian forces used pellet guns and tear gas on the protesters, injuring dozens of them.

Many people were still struggling to make contact with relatives to plan the holiday while India has cut off all communications after detaining more than 500 political leaders and activists, and enforced a curfew with tens of thousands of troops and policemen stopping movement of all residents.

Regional leaders have warned of a backlash in the region, where already tens of thousands of Kashmiris have lost their lives in decades of oppression by India.

Even supplies of food and medicines have been suspended by Indian authorities in many parts of the valley, leading to severe shortage of food for families who have been locked down in their homes.

Instead of resolving the dispute under United Nations Security Council resolutions, New Delhi scrapped the state’s right to frame its own laws and allowed non-residents to buy property there.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even some top opposition leaders have been criticised strongly by the opposition parties, including Indian National Congress.

The BJP has long campaigned for abrogating Kashmir’s special privileges in the constitution.

International rights groups, including Amnesty International, have asked the Indian government to end the communications blackout and stop human rights’ abuses.

Earlier, the Editors Guild of India had issued a statement saying it was impossible for journalists to cover developments in Kashmir without internet access.

“Media transparency has and always should be India’s strength, not fear,” it had remarked.