SRINAGAR: Despite the worst curfew in occupied Kashmir, thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets to protest against India on Friday over New Delhi’s unconstitutional move to withdraw the special status despite of the valley amid heavy paramilitary presence.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s revocation of Jammu and Kashmir state’s special autonomy.
Hurriyat leaders have called for all Kashmiris to leave their homes after Friday prayers, calling for a strong protest against India’s unconstitutional move, in which thousands of Kashmiri men, women, elders and children took to the streets raising flags of Pakistan and chanting Shahada “Allah is one”.
On Friday, protesters came out in the lanes of Soura, a densely populated enclave in Srinagar, and said they would continue their fight for independence till their last breath.
According to the BBC, peaceful protests of Kashmiris were underway, but the occupying Indian Army, not even considering children and women, suddenly attacked the demonstrators with pellet guns and teargas shells.
Kashmiris also became enraged and started responding to Indian troops with stones. Thereafter violent clash between the protesters and security forces took place in which several Kashmiris were injured. The clash continued for two hours in which the Kashmiris bravely fought the Indian Army armed with weapons.
Meanwhile, India has locked mosques, imposing a religious ban on Kashmiris. Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders had announced that all Kashmiris would break the curfew and hold rallies, but after a call for protests, the Modi government tightened securities in the occupied valley.
Terrified of Kashmiris, the Modi government has shut down all the big and small mosques in Srinagar, Shopian, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kupwara and Hazratbal Shrine in all the districts of Kashmir.
Protests have broken out in parts of Srinagar over the last two weeks, some drawing hundreds of people. At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched a sweeping crackdown, data from the Himalayan region’s two main hospitals shows.
Meanwhile, curfew and communication blackout entered the 19th consecutive day, further worsening the miseries of the besieged population across the territory. Vehicular as well as pedestrian movement remains blocked with barricades and concertina wires on roads and streets guarded by thousands of Indian troops.
The authorities also continue to impose information blockade as TV channels and internet links are snapped and restrictions on media continue since August 5 when BJP’s government scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Schools in the Kashmir Valley continue to give an empty look as parents have refused to risk the lives of their children.
On Aug 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir’s decades-old special status guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region, which is split between archrivals Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.
The move by the Modi government touched off anger among residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The changes in Indian-controlled Kashmir’s status allow anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region’s culture and demographics.
Kashmir has seen mass arrests and lockdowns before. The partition of the territory left India in control of most of Kashmir, and Pakistan and China in charge of other parts. India has often tried to suppress uprisings, including a bloody armed rebellion in 1989. About 70,000 people have been killed since that uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.