Occupied Kashmir curfew to be eased after August 15: Satya Pal Malik

Published August 14, 2019
An Indian Paramilitary soldier patrols during curfew in Srinagar. The main city in the India-occupied part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has turned into a vast maze of razor wire coils and steel barricades as drones and helicopters hover overhead. — AP
An Indian Paramilitary soldier patrols during curfew in Srinagar. The main city in the India-occupied part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has turned into a vast maze of razor wire coils and steel barricades as drones and helicopters hover overhead. — AP

Restrictions on freedom of movement in Indian-occupied Kashmir will be eased after India's Independence Day on Thursday, said IoK governor Satya Pal Malik, although phone lines and the internet will remain cut off.

Malik told Wednesday's 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.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi via Twitter asked Malik on Wednesday when he could visit the valley "with no conditions attached".

On Tuesday, Gandhi, addressing Malik, had said: "A delegation of opposition leaders and I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh. We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel and meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there."

According to India Today, Malik hit back saying: "Rahul Gandhi is politicising the matter by seeking to bring a delegation of opposition leaders to create further unrest and problems for the common people."

Malik said he had never invited the Congress leader with "so many pre-conditions" and has referred the matter to the local police and administration for further examination.

Gandhi, in a tweet today, asked the governor when he could visit.

"Dear Maalik ji, I saw your feeble reply to my tweet. I accept your invitation to visit Jammu & Kashmir and meet the people, with no conditions attached. When can I come?" he wrote on Twitter.

Clampdown continues

Fearing unrest, India snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in the part of Kashmir it occupies 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, however, has not completely prevented protests.

According to residents, around 8,000 people took part in a demonstration after Friday prayers, with Indian security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally.

In pictures: What's happening in occupied Kashmir?

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 Eidul Azha on Monday, the Himalayan region'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.

Kashmiri women shout slogans during a protest after Eid prayers in Srinagar on Monday. ─ AP
Kashmiri women shout slogans during a protest after Eid prayers in Srinagar on Monday. ─ AP

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".

Read: India imposes occupied Kashmir clampdown to head off Eid protests

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.

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