Sporadic protests flare up in Kashmir | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:48 AM, August 08, 2019

Sporadic protests flare up in Kashmir

One protester dies; scores held during curfew; Pakistan expels Indian envoy

A protester died and more than 100 people were arrested during a curfew in Kashmir’s main city after the region’s autonomy was scrapped by India, officials said yesterday.

The death was confirmed by police after the government passed a presidential decree on Monday stripping the Muslim-majority state of its longstanding semi-autonomous privileges, AFP reports.

Meanwhile, Pakistan yesterday expelled the Indian envoy in Islamabad and announced a five-point plan that included a downgrade of its ties with India and suspension of bilateral trade, NDTV reports.

While India’s High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria is in Islamabad, his Pakistani counterpart, high commissioner designate Moin-ul-Haq, is yet to take charge in New Delhi.

The announcement comes a day after Imran Khan warned that the Kashmir move will have “serious repercussions”.

Despite a paralysing curfew imposed to head off unrest in the region, sporadic protests have been reported by residents in Kashmir’s 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”.

The incident happened in Srinagar’s old town which has become a hotbed of anti-India protests during the three-decade insurgency in Kashmir that has left tens of thousands dead.

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

More than 100 people, included political leaders and activists, have been arrested as part of the lockdown for being a threat to the peace in the Himalayan valley, officials told the Press Trust of India.

CONDEMNATION OVER KASHMIR

Eight Muslims MPs from UK Labour Party have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging the British government to condemn the recent transgression by India in occupied Kashmir.

The letter spearheaded by the Shadow Justice Minister Yasmin Qureshi, was signed by MPs Rushanara Ali, Rosena Allin-Khan, Shabana Mahmood, Afzal Khan, Khalid Mahmood, Faisal Rashid, Mohammed Yasin, as well as Liberal Democrat Baroness Shas Sheehan.

China has also opposed the end to the special status for Kashmir, according to an NDTV report. 

Warning that India should avoid “unilaterally” changing the status quo in Kashmir, China also expressed opposition to naming Ladakh a separate Union Territory.

New Delhi brushed off China’s argument, saying it was “an internal matter concerning the territory of India”.

Earlier, the United Nations had said it was “deeply concerned” that the government’s move on Kashmir will “exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”. “The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out is of great concern in itself,” a spokesperson of the United Nations said.

MEDICAL SERVICES

All telephone, television, and internet connections stayed severed in Kashmir. By night, police vans had patrolled the streets, with loudspeakers warning residents to stay indoors, reports Reuters.

South Kashmir was completely locked down, said a state government official who visited the area.

Officials of emergency services, such as hospitals and the fire department, said their staff were also frequently stopped at checkpoints, with access sometimes blocked.

The principal of Srinagar’s Government Medical College, which runs the state’s largest hospital network, comprising about 3,500 beds, has to personally visit district officials to coordinate services or seek approvals, a hospital official said.

“The principal doesn’t have any means of communication,” added the official, who asked not to be identified. “Police stations have been given satellite phones but not him. That shows their [government’s] priority.”

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