Kashmir under lockdown: All the latest updates

The Indian government revoked the special status accorded to Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.

A presidential decree issued on August 5 revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.

In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders.

The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which said it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with India.

India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory. A rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir has been ongoing for 30 years.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 10

Kashmiris allege abuse by India army

Residents in a dozen villages have accused Indian soldiers of multiple human rights abuses – including beatings and electric shocks, forcing them to eat dirt or drink filthy water, poisoning their food supplies and threatening to take away and marry their female relatives.

An Indian army spokesman in the main city Srinagar, dismissed the accounts as “completely baseless”.

Read more here.

‘Less Heated’ tension between India, Pakistan

US President Donald Trump said there was “less heated” tension between India and Pakistan now compared to two weeks ago. He reiterated his offer to help if the two countries approached him.

“India and Pakistan are having a conflict over Kashmir as you know. I think (it) is a little bit less heated right now than (what) was two weeks ago,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.

“I get along with both countries very well. I am willing to help them if they want. They know that the (offer) is out there,” he said.

During a meeting with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in July, Trump had offered mediation on the Kashmir issue. But India has refused mediation by a third party.

Monday, September 9

UN rights chief ‘deeply concerned’ over India actions in Kashmir

The United Nations human rights chief on Monday voiced alarm over the situation in Kashmir, pointing among other things to “restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists”.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris,” Michelle Bachelet said in her opening statement to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva.

Bachelet said she had urged both the countries to ensure that rights in the region were respected and protected. But she said she had “appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews, to ensure people’s access to basic services, and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed Bachelet’s comments in a series of tweets on Monday, and called on the UNHCR to form an independent commission to investigate human rights atrocities in Indian-administered Kashmir. 

Pakistan arrests protesters after pro-independence Kashmir rally

Police have arrested at least 22 people at a pro-independence protest in Pakistan-administered Kashmir after clashes broke out between authorities and demonstrators, according to police and activists.

The clashes took place on Saturday near the village of Tatrinote, about 80km south of the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, and close to the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistan-administered portions of the disputed territory.

Read more here.

Sunday, September 8

India tightens lockdown over Muharram processions

Indian authorities have tightened the month-long security lockdown in the main city of Srinagar after breaking up the Muharram processions by mostly Shia Muslims who defied a ban.

Police drove around the city from early Sunday, asking the residents “not to venture out of their homes”. The AFP news agency reported at least two processions with eight to 10 mourners, who were detained and taken away by police, who were also seen hitting the mourners with bamboo sticks.

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar which started on September 1 this year, marks the anniversary of the death of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Most such processions have been banned in Indian-administered Kashmir since an armed rebellion against New Delhi’s rule began in 1989.

Kashmir Muharram

Kashmiri Shia Muslims raise are detained by Indian police while trying to participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar [Danish Ismail/Reuters]

Saturday, September 7

India: Lifting of Kashmir curbs ‘depends on Pakistan’

The lifting of communications restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir depends on Pakistan stopping deploying “terrorists” and fomenting unrest there, India’s national security adviser (NSA) has said.

NSA Ajit Doval said that “100 percent” of landlines are now working but that a further easing depends on Pakistan, which he said has sent 230 armed fighters into the region.

“Lifting the [restrictions on] communications depends on how Pakistan behaves,” Doval told reporters. “We are determined to protect the lives of Kashmiris from Pakistani terrorists even if we have to impose restrictions.”

India president’s request to use Pakistani airspace denied

Pakistan says it has refused a request by India’s President Ram Nath Kovind to fly through its airspace due to New Delhi’s recent “behaviour”.

“The Indian president had sought permission to use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Iceland but we decided not to permit him,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement, without giving further details. There was no immediate comment by India.

Read more here.

Friday, September 6

Landline phones back, but calls ‘don’t go through’

The administration in Indian-administered Kashmir said landline telephone service has been restored. But people lined up at offices or homes that have landline telephones to try to contact family and friends after the long wait, but many were unable to get through after repeated attempts.

“Our landlines have been restored but we are still unable to talk to people. It is frustrating. I have been trying to call people since morning, but I am not getting through,” said Syed Musahid in Srinagar.

Many Kashmiris living outside the region also said they were having trouble getting in touch with their families in Kashmir. “I kept trying a hundred times to reach my family in Kashmir, and only then did my call go through,” said Bint-e-Ali, a Kashmiri in the Indian city of Bengaluru.

Chaos and crisis in Kashmir hospitals

For the past two weeks, Mohamad Shafi has been at the bedside of his 13-year-old son Rafi, who has been admitted to the nephrology ward of a state-run hospital in Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar.

Shafi is tired and has hardly had much sleep, but the 54-year-old is prepared to stay at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences hospital for as long as it takes.

Read the full story here.

India throttling Kashmir media, report says

India’s government is muzzling Kashmir’s media as part of the lockdown it imposed on the disputed region a month ago, according to a new report by the Network of Women in Media, India and the Free Speech Collective.

The study said reporters were being subjected to surveillance, informal investigations and harassment for publishing reports considered adverse to the government or security forces.

Titled “News Behind The Barbed Wire”, its findings reveal “a grim and despairing picture of the media in Kashmir, fighting for survival against the most incredible of odds”.

Pakistan army accuses India of ‘state terrorism’

Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has accused India of being responsible for “state terrorism” in Indian-administered Kashmir.

He said the Pakistani military is ready for “every sacrifice” and “will never abandon” the people of Kashmir in their struggle for self-determination in line with UN resolutions.

Bajwa spoke as Pakistan marked the 54th anniversary of the start of the second of the two wars it has fought with India over Kashmir.

Thursday, September 5

Anger, defiance mark a month of Kashmir siege

Haleema had to begin her journey at dawn, travelling through deserted roads from her home in southern Kashmir’s Shopian district to wait at a park outside the central jail in Srinagar, the main city in the Muslim-majority region.

Two hours past noon, Haleema was still waiting and uncertain if she would be allowed to meet her husband, Bashir Ahmad. “He was picked 20 days ago,” she said, “like they pick everyone else.”

Read the full story here.

Kashmiri teen dies of pellet, tear gas shell wounds

When the body of 16-year-old Asrar Khan reached his home in Indian-administered Kashmir at about 2:30am on Wednesday (2100 GMT on Tuesday), wails of his grieving parents shattered the tense silence of the night.

Khan, a student of Class 11, was injured in the head by a tear gas shell and pellets on August 6 outside his home in the main city of Srinagar’s Ellahi Bagh area, according to his family and medical records.

Read the full story here.

Amnesty launches campaign to end Kashmir blackout

The draconian communications blackout in Kashmir is an outrageous protracted assault on the civil liberties of the people of Kashmir, Amnesty International India said, as it launched a global campaign today in a bid to highlight the human cost of the lockdown.

“The blackout has now been a month old and cannot be prolonged any further by the Indian Government as it has grossly impacted the daily lives of Kashmiri people, their emotional and mental wellbeing, medical care, as well as their access to basic necessities and emergency services. It is tearing families apart,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

Wednesday, September 4

Victims of torture, arbitrary arrests recount ordeal

In a village in southern Kashmir, a 22-year-old man said he was picked up in a midnight raid and tortured for more than an hour along with a dozen other Kashmiris.

“I was beaten with sticks, rifle butts and they kept asking me why I went for a protest march. I kept telling them that I didn’t, but they didn’t stop. After I fainted, they used electric shocks to revive me,” he told Al Jazeera, on condition of anonymity.

Read the full story here.

Kashmir torture

A Kashmiri man tortured by security forces shows a photo of his injuries on his mobile phone [Akash Bisht/Al Jazeera]

Saudi, UAE diplomats in Pakistan to discuss Kashmir

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have sent their top diplomats to Pakistan to help Islamabad defuse tensions with India over the disputed Kashmir region. Gulf Arab countries have kept mostly silent on the issue, underpinned by more than $100bn in annual trade with India that makes it one of the Arabian Peninsula’s most prized economic partners.

In a rare move, a single aircraft carried the two Arab diplomats – Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan – to Islamabad in what Pakistani authorities said was a symbolic show of unity. The two diplomats held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

India names leaders of Pakistan-based groups ‘terrorists’

India has officially declared Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as “terrorists” under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act.

Azhar’s name has already been placed by the United Nations on a sanctions blacklist after his group claimed responsibility for a February suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought India and Pakistan close to war. The UN in May imposed a travel ban and freeze on Azhar’s assets as well as an arms embargo.

Saeed, an anti-India scholar, runs a charity in Pakistan known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The charity is widely believed to serve as a front for LeT, the group blamed for attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.

India sowing seeds of war: Pakistan army

The Pakistani army has warned that India is sowing the seeds of war with its action in the Kashmir region.

“The situation in Kashmir has become a big danger in the region … The Indian action in Kashmir is sowing seeds of war,” Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news conference in Islamabad.

Kashmir Reuters

Kashmiris run for cover as Indian security forces (unseen) fire tear gas shells during clashes in Srinagar [Danish Ismail/Reuters]

Tuesday, September 3

PM Khan: Will not initiate military conflict with India

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has asserted that his country would not initiate a military conflict with India, warning of the risk to the world of nuclear war breaking out between the South Asian neighbours, as tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir remain high.

“We are two nuclear-armed countries, if tensions rise then there is a danger to the world from this,” Khan said at the International Sikh Convention in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, September 1

Thousands take part in anti-India rally in Karachi

Thousands of Pakistani protesters took part in an anti-India rally for a fourth consecutive week following India’s move in downgrading Muslim-majority Kashmir’s autonomy. Protesters held signs, chanted slogans and displayed a large Kashmiri flag during the rally in Karachi, organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

“We demand that the peace mission of the United Nations should visit Srinagar, like how they go to Uganda, East Timor, Djibouti and other countries of Africa,” said Siraj ul Haq, Jamaat-e-Islami party chief, calling on other nations to “take active measures to give Kashmiris the right to freedom”.

Reporting Kashmir amid lockdown, harassment

As the crippling lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir nears a month, journalists in the region complain of harassment by authorities, with many accusing security forces of deleting their camera footage and a pressure to report “normalcy”.

“This is a unique situation. None of us had seen anything like this in the past. Even in the worst of times in Kashmir, we were able to file our stories,” said Muzaffar Raina as he waited to access his email at a media centre in the main city of Srinagar.

Read the full story here.

Saturday, August 31

Friday, August 30

Khan: ‘World can’t ignore Kashmir, we’re all in danger’

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an opinion piece for The New York Times, said talks between India and Pakistan could only begin if New Delhi reversed its “illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks”.

Khan’s piece was published as Pakistan came to a standstill on Friday as tens of thousands poured onto streets in a government-led demonstration of solidarity with the disputed region of Kashmir, after India revoked its autonomy this month.

“I wanted to normalise relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalisation of relations between us,” Khan said.

Imran Khan leads Kashmir solidarity rallies in Pakistan

Pakistan’s prime minister promised to raise the issue of rights violations allegedly perpetrated by India in the disputed region of Kashmir at the United Nations next month, as tens of thousands held protests across the country expressing solidarity with the Kashmiris.

“The whole world should have stood with Kashmir,” Imran Khan told a rally of thousands outside his office in the capital Islamabad on Friday.

Read the full story here.

Kashmir hour protest in Pakistan

Thousands protest outside Pakistan’s parliament in Islamabad to express solidarity with Kashmir [Asad Hashim/Al Jazeera]

For previous updates, click here.


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