NEW DELHI: The crippling 10-day-old curfew in India-held Kashmir will ease after Thursday, according to the occupied state’s governor, but phone lines and the internet will remain cut.
India shut off communications and severely restricted movement on Aug 4, a day before it stripped the region of its autonomy.
Fearing protests and unrest, tens of thousands of additional Indian troops have been deployed, turning the city of Srinagar into a warren of barbed wire and barricades.
While rules on the movement of people would be eased after India’s Independence Day on Thursday, governor Satya Pal Malik said that phone lines and the internet would remain down.
“We don’t want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down,” Malik told the Times of India. “In a week or 10 days, everything will be all right and we will gradually open lines of communication.”
The lockdown has not completely prevented anger at PM Modi’s move bursting out into the open, however.
According to residents, around 8,000 people protested after Friday prayers, with Indian forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally.
Only on Tuesday did the Indian government confirm those clashes, blaming them on stone-throwing “miscreants” and saying its forces reacted with “restraint”.
Footage showed hundreds of people protesting in the Soura area of Srinagar, shouting slogans such as “We want freedom” and “India go back” as helicopters buzzed overhead.
India’s home ministry said on Tuesday that since the curfew was imposed, “no bullets have been fired”.
But Munir Khan, a police officer, said the military has used pellet-firing shotguns.
In Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital, one young man was nursing his eye, saying he had been shot by pellets fired by Indian soldiers as he came out of a mosque on Monday. “We could not pray in peace on the day of Eid. A large number of soldiers surrounded the mosque,” a man by his bedside said.
Elsewhere in the ward, six-year-old Munefa Nazir slept with her right eye bandaged as her family took turns waving a handheld fan to keep her cool.
According to her uncle, she was shot in the eye by a marble fired from a catapult by an Indian soldier at a checkpoint as they rode on his scooter on Monday evening.
“She screamed and blood from her eye started oozing through her fingers as she covered her face with both hands,” Farooq Ahmad said.
The 1,000-bed SMHS Hospital is usually busy, but because of the curfew only a few beds were occupied in some sections. Many pharmacies have also run out of some supplies.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019