Kashmir protesters clash with security forces

Kashmir protesters clash with security forces
Kashmir protesters clash with security forces. Reuters/A. Abidi
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Security forces used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in India-administered Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, on Friday. This is the third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district, despite authorities imposing tight restrictions on people's movement and communication.

On August 5, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government revoked the decades-old special constitutional status enjoyed by India-controlled Kashmir — known as Jammu and Kashmir. New Delhi also imposed an unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communications blackout.

Read more: Kashmir: The world's most dangerous conflict

Furthermore, the Indian government decided to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and turn it into two territories directly governed by New Delhi.

The move by the Modi government touched off anger among residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

To suppress any unrest, authorities have cut all communications, imposed a curfew and deployed thousands of additional troops to a region which is already one of the most militarized in the world.

In recent days, authorities have eased some restrictions on people's movement and restored some landline phone services.

'Collective punishment'

But patrols were intensified again on Friday, after posters appeared calling for a public march to a United Nations office to protest New Delhi's actions.

Police and paramilitary soldiers re-imposed restrictions on traffic in areas where they had been eased, putting steel barricades back up and laying razor wire across roads, bridges and intersections.

Read more: Cut-off Kashmir resorts to primitive communication methods

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, although both countries only control parts of it. Rebels in India-held Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule for decades.

Some Indian media reports on Friday said "terrorists" were trying to enter India from Afghanistan, citing unnamed government officials.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan responded on Twitter on Friday that such claims were being made to "divert attention" away from "massive human rights violations" in Kashmir.

"The Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention," Khan said.

Khan's comments came a day after United Nations experts called on the Indian government to "end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests" in Kashmir, saying it would increase regional tensions.

"The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence," they said in a statement.

At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched their crackdown, data from the Himalayan region's two main hospitals show.

sri/se (Reuters, AP)

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