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Thursday, 15 August, 2019

NEWS

kashmIr curfew Intact governor says Kashmir curfew to be eased after thursday SRINAGAR

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AGENCIES

eSTRICTIONS on freedom of movement in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir will be eased after India’s Independence Day on Thursday, the state governor has said, although phone lines and the internet will remain cut off. Satya Pal Malik told Times of India that communications will stay blocked as India’s government relaxes its clampdown since it stripped the region of its autonomy in early August. “We don’t want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down,” Malik told the paper in an interview. “In a week or 10 days, everything

will be alright and we will gradually open lines of communication,” he said. Fearing unrest, India snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in the part of Kashmir it controls on August 4, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the Muslim-majority region of its special status. Tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have been deployed to the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages, turning the picturesque city into a deserted warren of barbed wire and barricades. The lockdown has not completely prevented protests, however. According to residents around 8,000 people took part in a demonstration after Friday prayers, with security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally. On Tuesday the Indian government confirmed for the first time that clashes took place, blaming them on “miscreants” and saying its forces reacted with “restraint”. MOSQUE SHUT: For the Muslim festival of eid on Monday the Himalayan re-

gion’s biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered shut and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses said. Footage filmed by AFP on Monday showed hundreds of people protesting in the Soura area of Srinagar, shouting slogans such as “We want freedom” and “India go back”. Three helicopters continuously hovered over the area as protesters jeered and shook fists at the aircraft. “What India has done is unacceptable to us. Our struggle will continue even if India keeps Kashmir locked down for months. Only solution is that India has to accept what Kashmiris want,” one protester told AFP. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan following independence from Britain in 1947, and has been the spark for two wars between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals. An armed rebellion against Indian rule — supported by Pakistan, New Delhi says — has raged since 1989,

claiming tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians. India marks Independence Day, marking the end of British rule in 1947, on Thursday, a day after Pakistan.

Russia calls for Indo-Pak talks to resolve Kashmir issue ISLAMABAD APP

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday held a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to brief him about the current situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Qureshi briefed Sergey Lavrov on the illegal and unilateral steps taken by the Indian government to change the disputed status of IOK and its demographic structure, a Foreign Office (FO) statement said. He added that the Indian steps were against the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Kashmir issue and international law. The foreign minister underlined that Indian actions entailed grave risks for peace and security, and

highlighted the severe hardships faced by the people of IOK in the face of unprecedented lock down.

Qureshi apprised Lavrov on the deteriorating situation of safety and security of the population in the

IOK, which had been under curfew for the last 10 days. He also shared concerns about the intensified repression by Indian security forces and the possibility of a false flag operation, which would further endanger peace and security in the region. He underscored to his Russian counterpart that Pakistan had already requested the UNSC president to convene a meeting to discuss the illegal actions of India in IOK. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Russia was closely observing the situation and underlined the importance of resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue and peaceful means. The two leaders agreed to continue to work together for peace and stability in the region.

a reporter finds fear and chaos inside locked-down occupied Kashmir under the simmering crisis, ordinary Kashmiris are caught in tumult and waiting to see what happens NEW DELHI AGENCIES

My car moved within a column of Indian army vehicles and a cloud of dust. On a normal day, it would have been a smooth journey from the airport in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, to my family home in the northern town of Baramulla. But life is very different in the Kashmir Valley these days. The part that India controls is now under an unprecedented security crackdown to prevent an uprising after the central government in New Delhi unexpectedly stripped the region’s special constitutional status ─ the last vestige of real autonomy for the predominantly Muslim region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan. Hundreds of Indian soldiers, armed with automatic rifles, patrol the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, a 56-kilometer-long road that connects the region’s main city with its northern towns. Civilian traffic is sporadic. Shops are shuttered. Indian army trucks gather speed along the road. And spools of concertina wire block the streets that branch off the highway, forcing residents to remain indoors.The Indian-occupied part of Kashmir is under lockdown. I first returned to Kashmir last week on a reporting trip when India parliament revoked the region’s special status. My second trip was more personal. I was going home to see my relatives

after not having talked to them for days amid a shutdown of phone and internet service. The trip from Srinagar airport to Baramulla was filled with fear and a strange sense of homecoming. There was hardly any traffic on the highway. every 10-15 minutes, Indian soldiers stopped vehicles and frisked travelers. Most of the roads I crossed were strewn with debris — a sign of the population’s anger. The streets were almost deserted and the mood among the people somber. Under the simmering crisis, ordinary Kashmiris were caught in tumult and waiting to see what happens. “We will fight India,” said Firdous Ahmad Naqash, 19, on a road that leads to Sopore, a northern town where anti-India feelings run deep. Muzaffar Teli, a 56-year-old man sitting next to him, echoed his words. “Him and me, we will together fight India now,” he said. Kashmiris fear the move to put their region under greater control from New Delhi will change its demographics and cultural identity. India said its decision would free the troubled region "from separatism". Conversations with residents, many of whom spoke anonymously for fear of being arrested by Indian authorities, often ended with a deep sigh or a burst of anger. “It’s all black and white now. It’s them [India] versus us,” said Masarat Jan, her daughter clinging to her tightly as they maneuvered around concertina wire. “She is an asthma patient,” Jan said, referring to her daughter. “How will we get her the medicine she needs if these restrictions continue?” At home, things weren’t good. My mother, who is diabetic, was running out of insulin and clinics were out of stock. A doctor promised that he will try to get some from Srinagar if he could get to the city. My family told me an elderly neighbor had died, but he had been buried

quickly and no mourners were allowed to attend his funeral. They have stopped watching the news, what little there is. They said Indian news channels were pushing the central government’s narrative by only showing images from places that were relatively calm. I didn’t want to watch the news either. As fear, anger and ambiguity about what’s next dominate life in Kashmir, most people are anxious to get out of their homes and talk to their loved ones. Security lockdowns and information blackouts are nothing new in occupied Kashmir, where mass uprisings against Indian rule in 2008, 2010 and 2016 led to the deaths of more than 300 people in clashes. This month, however, marked the first time that landline phones were cut. On eidul Azha, the biggest Islamic festival, Indian forces patrolled the streets but there was no traffic. People weren’t allowed to congregate to offer their prayers and the day passed quietly. But a cloud of anger hovered throughout. Kashmir is once again at a fragile moment, where the slightest spark can ignite unrest. When they are not busy talking about “haalat” — or “the situation” — residents are exchanging the names of locations on the cusp of a bigger uprising. Amid the tension, some dark humor emerged. One man joked about the uselessness of his cellphone, saying it was only good for throwing it at a bored soldier in the street. Authorities in Baramulla carried out a spree of arrests, including political activists, former protesters and some stone-throwers. But they also arrested intellectuals and lawyers, according to several families I spoke to who described midnight raids. Because of the communication embargo, my calls from Delhi seeking comment from authorities didn’t go through.

On Wednesday Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Sunday likened India’s government to Nazi Germany, was due to make a speech in the legislative assembly in Pakistani Kashmir.

IndIa sets up fake pakIstanI checkpost In Iok to stage false flag operatIon New Delhi wants to conduct a false flag operation near the Line of Control (LoC) in Occupied Kashmir with a view to malign Pakistan, according to reports. The reports stated that Indian troops plan to stage a fake operation and the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government would project it as military action against Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB). New Delhi’s plan comes in the wake of heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after New Delhi stripped Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) of its special status and clamped an information blockade on the valley . The Modi government’s Kashmir move has been condemned by the international community as well as voices inside India. The United Nations has called for the government in New Delhi to roll back the constitutional amendment under which Article 370 was repealed. The world community has also urged for restraint from both sides as India continues to ramp up its attempts to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris. NEWS DESK

IndIa detaIns kashmIrI polItIcIan at aIrport A well-known bureaucrat-turned-politician from Indianadministered Kashmir has been arrested in Delhi and sent back to the region, reports say. Shah Faesal was one of the few Kashmiri politicians who was not detained ahead of India’s controversial decision to revoke the region’s special status. He was arrested at Delhi airport on Wednesday morning. Speaking to the BBC’s Hardtalk programme on Tuesday, Mr Faesal said he was apprehensive about being detained. “I’m ashamed of myself that I’m free at a time when the entire leadership of Kashmir is in jail,” he said. Mr Faesal said that by revoking special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “murdered the constitution in broad daylight”. However, the Indian government says it has acted in accordance with the constitution and all protocols have been followed. The PTI news agency quoted officials as saying that he had been arrested at the international airport in Delhi as he was trying to board a flight to Turkey. There is no clarity on where he has been taken in Indian-administered Kashmir but some local media have said he has been placed under house arrest. The BBC has not been able to independently verify this. Mr Faesal made headlines when he topped India’s notoriously difficult civil services examination in 2009, becoming the first Kashmiri to do so. He resigned from his government post in January to launch his own political party – the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement. Hundreds of people have already been detained in the region after the government revoked Article 370 – as the constitutional provision guaranteeing special status was known – on 5 August. They include politicians, activists, academics and business leaders. The region has been in lockdown for more than a week now, with mobile, landline and internet networks cut off and curfew-like restrictions that ban people from assembling in crowds. However, officials said on Wednesday that these restrictions had now been eased in the Hindu-majority Jammu region. Despite the lockdown there have been protests against the revocation of Article 370, including one on Friday in Srinagar in the Muslim-majority valley. It involved thousands of people coming out after midday prayers to demonstrate against the move. India’s government says the removal of special status will allow Kashmiris to benefit from greater economic opportunities and development. It has also defended its move by saying that Article 370 fuelled terrorism and separatism in Indianadministered Kashmir, which has been the site of an insurgency for three decades. AGENCIES

Published by Arif Nizami at Plot No 66-C, 1st Floor, 21st Commercial Street, Phase-II (Extension), DHA Karachi and printed at Ibn-e-Hassan Printing Press, Hockey Stadium, Karachi. Ph: 021-35381208-9. Email: newsroom@pakistantoday.com.pk

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