'Occupation': India arrests more than 1,300 as embattled citizens reveal intensifying crackdown

More than 1,300 people have now been arrested in Indian-administered Kashmir, as Narendra Modi’s government continued to enforce a complete lockdown in an attempt to stave off a popular uprising.

Cut off from the outside world by a complete communications blockade, locals in Srinagar told The Independent they no longer recognise their city, transformed into a maze of barbed wire barricades since the government moved to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

Among those 1,300 arrested or detained in their homes, a senior police official said, were 350 politicians. They include – for the first time in Kashmir’s recent history – the entire leadership of all the region’s pro-India parties, including three former chief ministers.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in its entirety by both, and the Indian-administered section has been subject to a violent insurgency since 1989 in which there have been an estimated 70,000 deaths.

By blurring the lines between separatist, pro-India and pro-Pakistan political camps, the arrests in the past 10 days have in effect united the people of the valley in defence of their autonomy, said a politician from the mainstream National Conference party who asked to remain anonymous.

“For the past 70 years, we held high the Indian national flag in Kashmir [even] where separatist sentiment ran deep. This (the arrests) is the gift to people of Kashmir from the fascist regime of India,” he said.

People here are struggling to keep daily life going, but for some the lockdown makes that impossible. One woman described how her 31-year-old daughter Ayman had been expecting a baby on 7 August in the southern city of Anantnag. Just 56km away in Srinagar, she had still heard no news on whether she was a new grandmother.

Zulfikhar Ahmad, walking through Srinagar, said: “It seems this place no longer belongs to me. I fear that my land has been occupied now, [and will be] for a long time to come.”

Daily clashes have been limited by laws preventing people from assembling in groups of more than four, but hospital officials told The Independent that they had received at least 15 youths injured by police shotgun pellets to the eye.

Doctors at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar said their prognosis was “not good” as most had received damage to their retinas. “We have done their primary repair. Until the vitreous haemorrhage goes, we have to wait for surgery,” one said.

An official who has been assigned to brief media on a daily basis said the government was aware of the difficulties people were facing, but insisted the restrictions were “reasonable” because some people were hell-bent on disrupting peace in the region. 

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Activists of Al-Badr Mujahideen, an islamic militant group, burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an anti-India protest in Peshawar, Pakistan

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A Pakistani girl holds a light candle during a vigil for peace in Lahore on March 3

AFP/Getty

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School children react as they celebrate the release of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan at a school in Ahmedabad

Reuters

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Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, stands under armed escort near Pakistan-India border in Wagah

Reuters

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Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the border with Pakistan

EPA

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A videograb allegedly shows the captured Indian Air Force pilot in the custody of Pakistani military

SWNS

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Pakistani civil society activists hold anti-war signs during a peace rally in Islamabad

AFP/Getty

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Pakistani civil society activists hold anti-war signs during a peace rally in Islamabad

AFP/Getty

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Activists of Al-Badr Mujahideen, an islamic militant group, burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an anti-India protest in Peshawar, Pakistan

Reuters

10/28

Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AP

11/28

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand look on as an Indian army helicopter lands near the site where an Indian Air Force jet was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

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An Indian soldier gestures near the wreckage of an Indian Air Force fighter jet that was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

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Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba brand Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a terrorist at a rally to condemn Indian aggression

AP

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Indian soldiers and Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

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India’s Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan on February 26

Reuters

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Protesters in Pakistan march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

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Supporters of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janta Party workers hold Indian flags as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

AP

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Protesters in Pakistan march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

19/28

People in India burn an effigy that represents Pakistan as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

Reuters

20/28

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

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Bhartiya Janta Party workers hold Indian flags as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

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Pakistani Kashmiris in the border town of Chakoti walk past India-bound cargo trucks that are parked as the road to India is closed

AP

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Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

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Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

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Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

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Workers enter a concrete bunker that they have built in a residential area near the border

Reuters

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Pakistani soldiers and journalists gather at the site where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

AFP/Getty

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Pakistani soldiers and journalists gather at the site where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

AFP/Getty

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Activists of Al-Badr Mujahideen, an islamic militant group, burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an anti-India protest in Peshawar, Pakistan

AFP/Getty

2/28

A Pakistani girl holds a light candle during a vigil for peace in Lahore on March 3

AFP/Getty

3/28

School children react as they celebrate the release of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan at a school in Ahmedabad

Reuters

4/28

Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, stands under armed escort near Pakistan-India border in Wagah

Reuters

5/28

Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the border with Pakistan

EPA

6/28

A videograb allegedly shows the captured Indian Air Force pilot in the custody of Pakistani military

SWNS

7/28

Pakistani civil society activists hold anti-war signs during a peace rally in Islamabad

AFP/Getty

8/28

Pakistani civil society activists hold anti-war signs during a peace rally in Islamabad

AFP/Getty

9/28

Activists of Al-Badr Mujahideen, an islamic militant group, burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an anti-India protest in Peshawar, Pakistan

Reuters

10/28

Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AP

11/28

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand look on as an Indian army helicopter lands near the site where an Indian Air Force jet was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

12/28

An Indian soldier gestures near the wreckage of an Indian Air Force fighter jet that was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

13/28

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba brand Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a terrorist at a rally to condemn Indian aggression

AP

14/28

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

15/28

India’s Border Security Force soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan on February 26

Reuters

16/28

Protesters in Pakistan march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

17/28

Supporters of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janta Party workers hold Indian flags as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

AP

18/28

Protesters in Pakistan march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

19/28

People in India burn an effigy that represents Pakistan as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

Reuters

20/28

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri villagers look on at the smouldering wreckage of an Indian fighter jet after it was shot down by the Pakistani military

AFP/Getty

21/28

Bhartiya Janta Party workers hold Indian flags as they celebrate the Indian airstrike on allege Pakistan terrorist camp

EPA

22/28

Pakistani Kashmiris in the border town of Chakoti walk past India-bound cargo trucks that are parked as the road to India is closed

AP

23/28

Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

24/28

Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

25/28

Pakistani Army soldiers escort journalists to the scene where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

EPA

26/28

Workers enter a concrete bunker that they have built in a residential area near the border

Reuters

27/28

Pakistani soldiers and journalists gather at the site where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

AFP/Getty

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Pakistani soldiers and journalists gather at the site where Indian fighter jets struck in a violation of Pakistani airspace

AFP/Getty

The Indian government argues that its decision to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir state’s special status is the only way to end the violent insurgency, and that it will bring economic prosperity by opening up property and job opportunities in Kashmir to the rest of the Hindu-majority country.

On Wednesday, the government announced it would hold a “first ever investors’ summit” on 12 October at a high-security convention centre in Srinagar. A statement said the event would “attract investments in various sectors of the economy of the state and showcase Jammu and Kashmir as a favourable investment destination”.

Both locals and politicians see the 5 August decision as a move aimed at changing the demography and Muslim-majority character of Kashmir, referring to it as a “conspiracy” to politically disempower them by settling Hindus in the disputed region.

“Our youth must fight the Indian attempts at demographic changes,” said another Srinagar resident, Javed Ahmad. “We have to save our lives, we have to live for azadi (freedom).”

Source : The Independent

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