A curfew in Kashmir has been imposed by Indian forces ahead of the Black Day marking the revocation of article 370 which stripped away Kashmir’s autonomy. Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gave special status and autonomy to the region of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked last year by the Indian government. Since then, the region has been fraught with violence, protests, and military strongholds, with forces from India, Pakistan, and China vying for control.
Chinese and Indian forces had a clash along the border in the Ladakh region earlier this year in May. 5th August, which marked the day the article was repealed saw military intervention, wide-spread arrests and a communications blackout. Among those arrested were also those who supported Indian rule.
Now an year later, on the anniversary of that unfortunate day, Indian forces have enforced a curfew in Kashmir to curtail riots and protests. Local sources say that a “Black Day” will be observed marking the anniversary. Shahid Iqbal Chaudhry, a civil administrator, told DailyTimes that “A series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and Pakistan-sponsored groups are planning to observe August 5 as Black Day and violent action or protests are not ruled out.”
Curfew in Kashmir imposed by Indian forces
With new laws affecting the once autonomous region, many people feel that their rights are being infringed upon. People outside have been given the right to own land in Kashmir, which makes locals fear that India is trying to influence the local demographic for its gain. Human Rights Watch representative, Meenakshi Ganguly noted in a statement that “Indian government’s claims that it was determined to improve Kashmiri lives ring hollow one year after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status. The authorities instead have maintained stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights.”
Another local by the name of Imriyaz Ali, who lives in the old town of Srinagar, told TheNews that “Police in vehicles moved through our locality and from loudspeakers ordered us to stay indoors for two days — as if we were not already caged.” A villager from Nazneenpora village also said on call, “I saw mobile phones of two of my neighbors taken away by soldiers when they got out to buy bread from a local baker early in the morning.”
Monday and Tuesday saw the curfew being enforced with police vehicles patrolling Srinagar since Monday night. The region saw new barricades being erected Monday morning and new forces in the thousands spreading through the city and surrounding villages on Tuesday. The patrolling officers used megaphones to order residents to stay indoors. A “full curfew” entails that only people with an official pass, usually reserved for essential services such as police and ambulances, can move freely. The curfew in Kashmir in conjunction with the COVID-19 lock-down measures being imposed is adversely affecting the everyday public lives of residents with economic progress in the region being impeded.
TheNews reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to visit Muzaffarabad to mark Youm-e-Istehsaal today, on Wednesday. Anti-India protests are planned throughout Azad Jammu and Kashmir while all major cities in Pakistan will hold solidarity marches, along with a one-minute silence. “Kashmiris have rejected the Indian annexation of August 5, no one has accepted this decision and the struggle for the right to self-determination will continue,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Monday.
In related news, Pakistani nationalist sentiments are being kindled and Kashmiri rights are being advocated by the ISPR Official youtube channel. A music video for the new song titled Ja Chor Day Meri Waadi was uploaded on Saturday. Since then four new videos have been uploaded including a short clip of Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and a strange poem in English with a surreal take on black lives matter being conflated with white lives matter, all lives matter, and eventually Kashmiri lives matter. More recently an Urdu poem has been uploaded calling out India with images depicting the protests, persecution, and military intervention in the region.