Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 27 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

A year after Kashmir lost its autonomy, virus lockdown hits

Authorities are enforcing security restrictions in many parts of Indian-administered Kashmir

A paramilitary soldier stands guard at a street on the one-year anniversary of the restive region Kashmir being stripped of its autonomy in Srinagar. AFP
A paramilitary soldier stands guard at a street on the one-year anniversary of the restive region Kashmir being stripped of its autonomy in Srinagar. AFP

Authorities on Wednesday enforced security restrictions in many parts of Indian-administered Kashmir, a year after New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomy.

Officials lifted a curfew in the city of Srinagar late on Tuesday, but said restrictions on public movement, transport and commercial activities would continue because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government forces erected barricades across many roads, bridges and intersections. Shops and businesses remained shut and police and soldiers stopped residents at checkpoints, only letting an occasional vehicle or pedestrians pass.

On August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrapped its separate constitution and removed inherited protections on land and jobs.

The region was also split into two federal territories – Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir. Following the move, Indian authorities enforced an information blackout and a security clampdown in Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiri youths and pro-independence leaders, as well as pro-India Kashmiri politicians, were arrested.

As some of the restrictions were eased, India enforced another lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In Ladakh’s Muslim-majority Kargil district, religious and political groups demanded revocation of the order, calling August 5 a “black day.” Businesses and shops remained closed in most of the district.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan demanded on Wednesday that the international community “force India to reverse its present course against the Kashmiri people”.

“Pakistan will always be with its brothers and sisters” in Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr Khan said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Mr Khan unveiled a new map of Pakistan that included Indian-held Kashmir and Junagadh in the Muslim-majority country’s boundaries for the first time in 70 years. India rejected the move as “an exercise in political absurdity.”

The status of Kashmir has been a key point of dispute between Pakistan and India since the two split after the end of British colonial rule. They each control part of Kashmir and have fought two wars over their rival claims.

Initially, the anti-India movement in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir was largely peaceful, but after a series of political blunders, broken promises and a crackdown on dissent, Kashmiris launched a full-blown armed revolt in 1989.

Updated: August 6, 2020 07:59 PM

THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email
Most Popular