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Agencies
September 17, 2019

India’s brutal clampdown continues for 43rd day in IOK

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Agencies
September 17, 2019

HELD SRINAGAR: Indian Occupied Kashmir has seen an average of nearly 20 protests per day against Indian rule over the last six weeks despite a security lockdown for the last 43 days to quell unrest, a senior government source told AFP. Tensions remain high in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) after New Delhi's controversial decision last month to revoke the territory's decades-old semi-autonomous status.

Despite a curfew, movement restrictions, and the severe curtailment of internet and mobile phone services, public demonstrations against India — mostly in the largestcity Srinagar — have been constant, the source told AFP.

Altogether, there have been 722 protests since August 5, with Baramulla district in the northwest and Pulwama in the south the biggest hotspots after Srinagar, the source said. Since that date, nearly 200 civilians and 415 security force members have been hurt, according to the source. Further, 95 of the civilians were injured in the last two weeks, the official said.

So far more than 4,100 people — including 170 local political leaders — have been detained across the valley, with 3,000 released in the past two weeks, the official said. It was unclear whether any politicians were among those released.

Indian authorities have so far insisted that outbreaks of violence have been minimal, and that only five civilians have died since the clampdown started. The relatives of four of those killed told AFP they believed the security forces were responsible for their deaths.

India deployed extra troops ahead of the August 5 decision to reinforce some 500,000 soldiers already stationed in the region, one of the most militarised places on the planet. Meanwhile, a parliament member, who is a senior pro-India politician in IOK, was arrested on Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.

Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of IOK, was arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) at his residence in Srinagar. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Indian government to immediately release detained Kashmiris who have not been charged with a recognisable offence.

HRW’s latest report ‘India Free Kashmiris Arbitrarily Detained’ documents the detention of over 4,000 Kashmiris including politicians activists separatist leaders, lawyers and journalists who have been held in detention camps since India stripped IOK off its special status on August 5.

Approximately, 400 elected officials and political leaders as well as former chief ministers of IOK belonging to the National Conference and the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party have also been detained. The human rights watchdog states that many detainees have not been allowed to contact their families or lawyers.

“Anyone who has been detained in Kashmir without evidence of a crime should be immediately and unconditionally released,” South Asia Director at HRW Meenakshi Ganguly said, adding that it was essential for authorities to allow every detainee access to lawyers and family members.

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