SRINAGAR: India’s federal government named a former telecoms minister on Thursday to lead the restive region of Occupied Kashmir, where it has imposed new restrictions in the name of efforts aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.
Manoj Sinha, a leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, will replace career bureaucrat G.C. Murmu as lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir, a government statement said.
The appointment came a day after authorities ensured that the first anniversary of the revocation of the disputed region’s constitutional autonomy passed off without any major street protests amid heavy deployment of police and restrictions on public movement.
However, on Thursday fighters opposed to Indian occupation of their region shot dead a village council head from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the Kulgam district, police said.
“He was shot multiple times outside his residence,” a police officer said.
Indian forces, meanwhile, placed steel barricades and razor wire across many roads, bridges and intersections. Shops and businesses remained shut and police and soldiers stopped residents at checkpoints, only letting an occasional vehicle or pedestrian pass.
Several residents said government forces stopped them at checkpoints, saying the curfew was still in place.
“You call it a curfew or virus lockdown, the fact is that we’re under a brutal siege and this siege is a year old now,” said Ishfaq Ahmed, a Srinagar resident.
On Aug 5, 2019, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government stripped Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrapped its constitution and removed inherited protections on land and jobs.
China on Wednesday called India’s action in Occupied Kashmir illegal and said it hoped Pakistan and India would resolve their differences through dialogue.
“China pays great attention to the situation in Kashmir,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing. “Any unilateral change of the status quo in the Kashmir region is illegal and invalid.”
India’s foreign ministry responded by claiming China had no standing in the matter “and is advised not to comment on the internal affairs of other nations”.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2020