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Monday 19 August 2019

India eases restrictions in Kashmir for Eid

The internet remains cut off.

Kashmiris walk past Indian paramilitary soldiers patrolling in Srinagar (Mukhtar Khan/AP)
Kashmiris walk past Indian paramilitary soldiers patrolling in Srinagar (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

By Ashok Sharma, AP

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have eased restrictions in most parts of Srinagar, the main city, ahead of an Islamic festival following India’s decision to strip the region of its constitutional autonomy.

Magistrate Shahid Choudhary said more than 250 cash machines had been made functional and bank branches opened for people to withdraw money ahead of Monday’s Eid al-Adha festival.

The internet remains cut off for a seventh day.

India’s main opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday there were reports of violence and “people dying” in the region.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Mr Gandhi said “things are going very wrong there,” and called for the Indian government to make clear what was happening.

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Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol a street in Srinagar (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

Authorities in Srinagar said there have been instances of stone pelting by protesters but no gun firing by security forces in the past six days. Television images showed movement of cars and people in some parts of Kashmir.

State-run All India Radio quoted the region’s top bureaucrat, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, as saying that people were coming out of their homes for Eid shopping. He also said that Srinagar and other towns had witnessed good road traffic on Saturday.

India’s junior Home Minister G Kishan Reddy said he expected the situation in Kashmir to become “fully peaceful” in 10-15 days.

He said communication facilities would be restored in phases. “We have only taken precautionary measures with the view that even small incidents should not occur when a major decision has been made,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.

Mr Reddy said there had been occasions in the past when a curfew had continued for weeks at a stretch, but there was no such expectation now.

When a demographic change is made through force, it's called genocide, and you are moving toward genocide Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

On Saturday, Pakistan said that with the support of China, it would take up India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir with the UN Security Council and may approach the UN Human Rights Commission over what it says is the “genocide” of the Kashmiri people.

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan and is divided between the arch-rivals. Rebels have been fighting New Delhi’s rule for decades in the Indian-controlled portion, and most Kashmiri residents want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

“When a demographic change is made through force, it’s called genocide, and you are moving toward genocide,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad after returning from Beijing.

PA Media

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