SRINAGAR / NEW DELHI: The Indian authorities tightened curfew and other restrictions to prevent people from holding a protest demonstration outside the UN office in Srinagar after Friday prayers against India’s provocative August 5 move and its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Security forces were deployed at strength in many places to maintain law and order amid unrest over India’s treatment of the region.
However, sporadic demonstrations rocked some parts of Srinagar, with clashes between stone-throwing protesters and Indian security forces leaving more than 100 injured.
A call for the protest march was given by the resistance leaders through posters appearing in Srinagar and other parts of the occupied valley on Friday.
“Preachers in all mosques [in their Friday prayers sermons] should make the people aware of India’s plans to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir,” handbills written in Urdu said.
The people were urged to join the march to convey to India and the world that the Kashmiris would not accept Indian occupation over their territory. The protest was also aimed at resisting the Indian attempt to change the demography of IOK by settling outsiders in the occupied territory.
On August 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government scrapped the autonomy of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region that has enjoyed special status in the Indian constitution since the country’s independence from Britain in 1947.
The move enraged Kashmiris and has sparked tensions with Pakistan, raising growing international concern over a flare-up in violence between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Residents in the Muslim-majority region have complained of a stifling environment as well as the inability to get in touch with family and friends worried about their wellbeing.
Kashmir has waged a three-decade-long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.
Ahead of its controversial announcement, India rushed tens of thousands of extra troops to the restive region to join at least 700,000 already in the valley, and imposed a strict communications clampdown.
The near-total communications blackout has triggered global concern, with a group of UN human rights experts warning it amounted to “collective punishment” and risked exacerbating regional tensions.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him Paris was keeping an eye on the Kashmir region.
France would “remain attentive to ensure the interests and rights of the civilian populations are properly taken into account in the territories on both sides of the (Kashmir) ceasefire line”, Macron said.
With additional input from Kashmir Media Service