India reimposes restrictions on movement in parts of Srinagar; 24 injured in clashes

Published August 18, 2019
Protesters shout slogans at a rally against the Indian government's move to strip occupied Kashmir of its autonomy and impose a communications blackout, in Srinagar on August 16, 2019. ─ AFP
Protesters shout slogans at a rally against the Indian government's move to strip occupied Kashmir of its autonomy and impose a communications blackout, in Srinagar on August 16, 2019. ─ AFP
A woman weeps inside her house after her household goods were damaged allegedly by Indian security forces following clashes between protesters and the security forces on Friday evening. ─ Reuters
A woman weeps inside her house after her household goods were damaged allegedly by Indian security forces following clashes between protesters and the security forces on Friday evening. ─ Reuters
A Kashmiri man looks out from a window of his house which was damaged allegedly by Indian security forces after clashes between protesters and the security forces on Friday evening in Srinagar in occupied Kashmir.  — Reuters
A Kashmiri man looks out from a window of his house which was damaged allegedly by Indian security forces after clashes between protesters and the security forces on Friday evening in Srinagar in occupied Kashmir. — Reuters

Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of occupied Kashmir's biggest city, Srinagar, on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured, two senior officials and eyewitnesses said.

In the past 24 hours, there has been a series of protests against New Delhi's August 5 revocation of the occupied region's autonomy. This followed an easing in curbs on movement on Saturday morning.

A baker prepares dough inside a bakery workshop with a closed shutter after restrictions were 'eased'. ─ Reuters
A baker prepares dough inside a bakery workshop with a closed shutter after restrictions were 'eased'. ─ Reuters

The state government has said that it has not imposed a curfew over the past two weeks, but on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks set up in the city in the past few hours. Security forces at some roadblocks have told residents there is a curfew.

Two senior government officials told Reuters that at least two dozen people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city on Saturday night.

Explore: Will the pellet gun victims in Kashmir ever regain their eyesight?

Representatives in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir government in Srinagar and the federal government in New Delhi did not immediately return calls asking about the latest clampdown or seeking an assessment of the number of injuries and clashes.

One of the official sources said that people pelted security forces with stones in around two dozen places across Srinagar. He said that the intensity of the stone pelting protests has increased over the past few days.

Chilli grenades

The heavy overnight clashes took place mostly in Rainawari, Nowhetta and Gojwara areas of the old city where Indian troops fired tear gas, chilli grenades and pellet guns to disperse protesters, eyewitnesses and officials said.

A Kashmiri youth who was injured in a protest last week holds up an x-ray showing pellet injuries in his thigh as he recovers at his home in Srinagar. ─ AP
A Kashmiri youth who was injured in a protest last week holds up an x-ray showing pellet injuries in his thigh as he recovers at his home in Srinagar. ─ AP

Chilli grenades contain very spicy chili pepper, and produce a major eye and skin irritant, as well as a pungent smell, when they are unleashed.

The officials, who declined to be identified because they aren't supposed to talk to the media, said clashes also took place in other parts of the city including Soura, a hotbed of protests in the past two weeks.

Read more: How Modi used Kashmir to stoke nationalist sentiment and woo India's Hindu voters

A senior government official and hospital authorities at Srinagar's main hospital said that at least 17 people came there with pellet injuries. They said 12 were discharged while five with grievous injuries were admitted.

The hospital officials and a police officer told Reuters that a 65-year-old man, Mohammad Ayub of Braripora, was admitted to the hospital after he had major breathing difficulties when tear gas and chilli grenades were fired in old city area on Saturday afternoon. He died in the hospital on Saturday night and has already been buried, they said.

Blocking the way

Javed Ahmad, age 35 and from the wealthy Rajbagh area of Srinagar, was prevented from going to the old city early on Sunday morning by paramilitary police at a barricade near the city centre.

"I had to visit my parents there. Troops had blocked the road with concertina wire. They asked me to go back as there was curfew in the area," he said.

Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout and the state government said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. Internet and cellphones remain blocked in occupied Kashmir.

A Kashmiri man carries a child and walks on a road dotted with stones and bricks from earlier protests in Srinagar. ─ AP
A Kashmiri man carries a child and walks on a road dotted with stones and bricks from earlier protests in Srinagar. ─ AP

More than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention, and some have been flown to prisons outside the state.

Read more: Kashmiris warn India its crackdown is turning some to militancy

For 30 years in occupied Kashmir, India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.

The change will allow non-residents to buy property in occupied Kashmir and end the practice of reserving state government jobs for local residents.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government claims the measure is necessary to integrate occupied Kashmir fully into India and speed up its development.

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