An unprecedented security lockdown is keeping people in India-occupied Kashmir indoors for a ninth day Tuesday.
Indian troops patrolling the disputed region had allowed some Muslims to walk to mosques to mark the Eidul Azha on Monday and shops had been opened briefly on previous days.
But residents are now running short of essentials under the near-constant curfew and communications blackout as India tried to stave off a violent reaction to the government’s decision August 5 to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.
Witnesses described hundreds of people chanting “We want freedom” and “Go India, go back” during a brief protest Monday. Officials said the protest ended peacefully.
The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India’s independence day.
Kashmiris fear India’s moves bringing the region under greater New Delhi control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.
India said its decisions to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrade it from statehood to a territory would free it from separatism.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want independence.
India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it. The first one ended in 1948 with the region divided between them and a promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.
Islamabad has denounced the changes as illegal and in response has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services with India.
FO condemns India’s curtailment of Kashmiris’ freedom
Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Tuesday said that India has curtailed religious freedom of millions of Kashmiris living in occupied Kashmir during Eidul Azha.
FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that restrictions and curtailment of this fundamental religious right of millions of Kashmiris constitutes a serious violation of international human rights laws.
The spokesperson said that the occupied valley has been turned into a massive military prison and Kashmiris were prevented from offering the Eid prayers at Srinagar’s historical Jama Masjid.
He said complete communications blockade of telephone; landline and cellular and internet services for over a week has also deprived Kashmiris from contacting their families and loved ones on this festive occasion.
The spokesperson further added that these measures amount to “collective punishment” on an industrial scale and violate all principles and precepts of human rights and humanitarian law.
He said Pakistan calls upon the international community, including the United Nations human rights machinery and other relevant bodies, to hold India to account for these deliberate crimes against religion, violations of international law and lack of respect for human decency.