IN THE NEWS: INDIA REVOKES KASHMIR’S SPECIAL STATUS: ALL THE LATEST UPDATES (AUGUST 9, 2019)

Written by admin on Friday, August 9th, 2019

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

India revokes Kashmir’s special status: All the latest updates
SOURCE: Al Jazeera
Friday, August 9, 2019

*Police in Indian-administered Kashmir said Srinagar residents allowed to go to ‘area-specific mosques’
* Kashmir: Thousands flee border villages along Line of Control today
* UN concern over Kashmir lockdown as hundreds reported arrested today
* Is Pakistan able to counter India’s move in Kashmir?

The Indian government has revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in its constitution, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly seven decades.

A presidential decree issued on Monday revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters, except defence, communications and foreign affairs.

In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposing a crippling curfew, shutting down telecommunications and internet, and arresting political leaders.
The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which said it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with India.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory.

Here are all the latest updates:

Friday, August 9

Protests expected in Pakistan, Srinagar

Authorities in Pakistan and Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir are bracing for protests on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said two protests were scheduled in the Pakistan capital after Friday prayers.

“Organisers of one protest have threatened to march to the Indian High Commission which is located in Islamabad’s red zone,” he said.

Priyanka Gupta, reporting for Al Jazeera from New Delhi, said the government was monitoring the situation in Kashmir very closely.

“The Friday prayers took place under heavy security. There have been sporadic clashes in the last four days but we’re expecting more protests happening later on Friday,” she said.

Demonstrations against India’s move in Kashmir have been taking place across the world.

Thousands of villagers living along the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) dividing Pakistani and Indian-administered Kashmir have migrated to safer places in fear of artillery fire exchanges across the border.

“There is fear in the area and residents are preparing to leave their homes if a cross-border exchange of fire takes place. The LoC is just three kilometres from where we are,” Muhammad Mukhtar, a 38-year-old vet, told Al Jazeera.

Curfew to be eased for Friday prayers

The strict curfew in Kashmir that has entered a fifth day will be eased for Friday prayers, the police chief said.

“People will be allowed to go to the area-specific mosques for the prayers in most parts of the Srinagar city,” the region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, told The Associated Press.

The relaxing of the curfew was temporary but a precise timeframe was not given.

Pakistan FM visiting ‘trusted friend’ China over Kashmir

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is visiting China as part of efforts to pressure India to reverse its decision revoking the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi will meet with Chinese leaders on Friday. Before leaving for Beijing, Qureshi said he will apprise Islamabad’s “trusted friend” about the situation.

Pakistan says it is considering a proposal to approach the International Court of Justice over India’s action.

Silence cloaks the centre of Srinagar on Friday, its once-teeming streets blocked with spools of concertina wire. Every road is sealed off. The population has been forced indoors while thousands of Indian soldiers in camouflage are on patrol, carrying guns at their waists.

Friday marks the fourth day since the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir is under siege.

Muslim worshippers are expected to attend Friday prayers at mosques across the region later on Friday.

Thursday, August 8

UN urges ‘maximum restraint’ amid Kashmir row

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has appealed for “maximum restraint” as tensions escalate between India and Pakistan over New Delhi’s move on Kashmir.

Recalling the 1972 Simla Agreement, in which New Delhi and Islamabad committed to bilateral negotiations to resolve their dispute over Kashmir, Guterres called on “all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect” the region’s status.

In his statement, Guterres also expressed concern over reports of “restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir”, saying they could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region.

Kashmir cut off from outside world amid security lockdown
Some government offices and schools to reopen in Kashmir

India’s ANI news agency said Indian-administered Kashmir’s top civil servant has ordered government employees “who are working at divisional level, district level and those serving in civil secretariat, to report back to their duties with immediate effect”.

All schools in the southern district of Samba will also reopen on Friday, the agency said, citing an official statement.

J&K Government: It is further intimated that necessary arrangements regarding smooth and secure working environment for the employees have been made by the administration

Modi says ‘new era’ has begun in Kashmir

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged a “new era” of economic growth in Kashmir following his government’s decision to strip the territory of its special rights.

But in his first address to the nation since the move, Modi did not address the four-day-long security lockdown or communications blackout in the region.

He described Article 370 as an “obstacle” to the region’s development and said the decision to abolish the provision will free Kashmir from “terrorism and separatism”.

The move will also create new jobs and sports opportunities for Kashmir’s youth, Modi said, also pledging to develop the region’s film and herbal medicine industries.

Analysis: ‘Widespread support’ in India for BJP’s Kashmir move

Shruti Kapila, lecturer in history at the Cambridge University in the UK, said there was “widespread popular support” in India for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) decision to scrap disputed Kashmir’s special status.

The move was a key campaign pledge of the BJP, which registered a landslide victory in the general election in April- May, she noted. “This mandate was sought on the back of national security after the Pulwama attack in mid-February,” she said, referring to a suicide attack that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers in India-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan halts India train service, bans films over Kashmir move

“Both in the upper and lower houses of parliament, there was very little in the nature of resistance .. by and large, there has been cross-party consensus, even by smaller regional parties who may feel threatened by such a precedent which strengthens the hands of central powers in India,” she said from New Delhi.

“Secondly, I also think the trigger point is also the moving away of the United States from this region … There is no real international multilateral body to which this can be addressed to,” she added.
Pakistan to ban Indian films over Kashmir tension

Pakistan has said it would ban the screening of Indian films in the country’s cinemas, as tensions between the two countries rise over the contested Kashmir region.

“No Indian cinema will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan,” Firdous Ashiq Awan, an adviser to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, said in a tweet.

Pakistan suspends train service to India

Pakistan has said it would suspend a rail service linking it to India, as relations with its arch-rival continue to sour over the contested Kashmir region.

“We have decided to shut down Samjhauta Express,” Minister of Railways Sheikh Rasheed said, referring to the train running to India’s capital New Delhi from the Pakistani city of Lahore.

“As long as I am [the] railways minister, Samjhauta Express can’t operate.”

Kashmir an ‘internal affair’, India tells Pakistan

India has hit back at Pakistan’s downgrading of diplomatic ties over its clampdown on Kashmir, saying its decision to strip the restive region of its autonomy was an “internal affair”.

“The recent developments pertaining to Article 370 are entirely the internal affair of India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

“Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed.”

What’s behind the decision to revoke the status of Indian administered Kashmir?
No phone calls, no groceries: Kashmir on edge under lockdown

The unprecedented security lockdown amid a near-total communications blackout has entered a fourth day in Indian-administered Kashmir, with tens of thousands of forces in riot gear patrolling the region.

Streets lined with shuttered shops were deserted while steel barricades and razor wire cut off neighbourhoods, AP news agency said. Shopping malls, grocery stores and even clinics were closed.

Due to the communication blackout – with landlines, mobile phones and internet all down – people can’t call one another or speak to friends and relatives outside the region.

Activist files petition challenging Kashmir clampdown

An opposition activist has filed a petition in India’s Supreme Court challenging the communications blackout and security clampdown in Indian-administered Kashmir, where people remained holed up in their homes for a fourth day.

Petition filed in SC by Tehseen Poonawalla seeking withdrawal of curfew, blocking of phone lines, internet, news channels & other restrictions from #JammuAndKashmir. The plea also seeks “immediate release of political leaders from illegal custody”.

The plea also sought “immediate release” of political leaders under custody, including two former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers.

State-run All India Radio said security agencies have arrested more than 500 people in the disputed region apparently to prevent any outbreak of violence.

India’s splitting of Kashmir opposed in border city of Kargil

India’s move to carve out Ladakh from the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make it a “union territory” has been met with protests in Kargil, a Muslim-majority border city in Ladakh that identifies culturally with Kashmir.

Kargil’s religious and political organisations released a statement, condemning the Indian government for acting “without the consent from the people”. The groups called for a shutdown on Tuesday.

Kargil’s Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, an influential religious group in the region, supported the protest.

Wednesday, August 7

US supports direct dialogue between Pakistan, India on Kashmir

The United States on Wednesday said it supports direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on the disputed Kashmir region and called for calm and restraint as the dispute escalated.

“We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern,” a US State Department spokeswoman said in a statement.

Kashmiris anxious over food, cash shortages

Residents of Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, have expressed concern over food and currency shortages because of the continuing security lockdown.

Muneer Ahmad, who owns a shop at the Jahangir Chowk, said he was running out of essential goods.

“Whatever old stock we had we sold that and now we are running out of stock like milk, flour, and the way security has been placed on roads,” he said. “This seems to be a long curfew where people will starve.”

Most ATMs in the city were also not working, residents said.

India ‘did not consult US’ over Kashmir move

The US has denied media reports that New Delhi had consulted Washington before revoking Kashmir’s special status.

Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said in a Twitter post: “Contrary to press reporting, the Indian government did not consult or inform the US government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.”

Contrary to press reporting, the Indian government did not consult or inform the US Government before moving to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status

UK expresses concern to India over Kashmir

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had expressed concern to his Indian counterpart about the situation in the disputed Kashmir region.

“I have spoken to the Indian foreign minister,” Raab said. “We’ve expressed some of our concerns around the situation and called for calm, but also had a clear readout of the situation from the perspective of the Indian government.”

Pakistan to expel Indian ambassador

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, said Islamabad would expel India’s ambassador Ajay Bisaria.

Moin-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s newly-appointed ambassador to India, had yet to take up his post but will now not move to New Delhi, Qureshi added in televised comments.

Pakistan to downgrade ties with India over Kashmir move

Pakistan said it will “downgrade” diplomatic relations and suspend bilateral trade with India after New Delhi stripped its portion of the contested Kashmir region of special status.

The move follows a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to an official statement posted on Twitter.

1-Downgrading of diplomatic relations with India.
2-Suspension of bilateral trade with India.
3-Review of bilateral arrangements.
4-Matter to be taken to UN, including the Security Council.
5-14th of August to be observed in solidarity with brave

Protesting India’s “unilateral” and “illegal” actions in Kashmir, Islamabad said it would also raise the issue with the United Nations Security Council.

Khan also directed Pakistan’s armed forces to “continue vigilance”.
Protester dies, scores arrested in Kashmir lockdown

A protester died after being chased by police and more than 100 people were arrested during a curfew in Kashmir’s main city after the restive region’s autonomy was scrapped by India, officials told AFP news agency.

Despite a paralysing curfew imposed to head off unrest, sporadic protests have been reported by residents in the main city, Srinagar. A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that in one incident a youth being chased by police “jumped into the Jhelum River and died”.

A source told AFP that at least six people had been admitted to hospital in Srinagar with gunshot wounds and other injuries from protests.

Indians divided over move to split Indian-administered Kashmir
Workers leave Kashmir valley after lockdown

Thousands of workers from north Indian states have left Indian-administered Kashmir over the last three days following an unprecedented lockdown of the Himalayan valley.

Restrictions on movement and a communications blackout for a third day in Indian-administered Kashmir have frustrated the region’s journalists.

Most English and Urdu language newspapers based in the main city of Srinagar have not published their editions since Monday.

“I tried to take some photos and videos, but the deployed forces stopped me. They asked me to shut my camera,” a news reporter told Al Jazeera.

Activists arrested, journalists fear for safety

Many activists were arrested in Indian-administered Kashmir, sources told Al Jazeera from Srinagar.

Journalists already struggling to get information about the disputed region out because of a communications blackout, said they fear for their safety.

One reporter told Al Jazeera on the condition of anonymity that his name was on a list of people who were to be arrested.

Sporadic protests in Srinagar amid lockdown

Knots of young protesters threw stones at soldiers, police and a witness said, amid anger over the telecommunications clampdown that began on Sunday.

Indians divided over move to split Indian-administered Kashmir
Streets in the region’s main city of Srinagar were deserted for a third day, with almost all shops shut, barring some chemists.

“These [protests] are mostly localised because of the heavy troop deployment,” a police officer who sought anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters news agency, adding that police used tear gas and pepper spray to scatter the protesters.

Kashmiris mourn loss of autonomy

Residents of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir lamented India’s decision to scrap the region’s special status but promised to resist the move.

Al Jazeera spoke with almost a dozen locals who said they feared demographic changes would now be inevitable in the Muslim-majority region.

Ghulam Mohammad Mir, a 42-year-old ambulance driver said: “Our honour has been sacrificed. When I heard about the abrogation of the terms of accession I felt like I have lost a part of my body. Kashmir is not going to remain the same area.”

What are Articles 370 and 35A?

Article 370 was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from British rule in 1947.

Article 35A was introduced through a presidential order in 1954 to continue the old provisions of the territory regulations under Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

UN ‘deeply concerned’ over Kashmir curfew

The UN has expressed concern over the significant security lockdown, telecommunication restrictions and the arbitrary detention of political leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir.

“What we are witnessing now in Indian-administered Kashmir takes what was already a bit of a pattern to a new level,” said UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville at a press briefing in Geneva.

“We are deeply concerned that the latest restrictions will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region,” he added.

 

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