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Home > Uncategorised > ’Calm’ Kashmir Erupts in Protest

’Calm’ Kashmir Erupts in Protest

Saturday 10 August 2019, by siawi3

Source: https://thewire.in/security/kashmir-article-370-protests-pellet-guns

’Calm’ Kashmir Erupts in Protest

Photo: PTI
’Thousands’ take to Srinagar’s streets against Centre’s 370 move

What’s the news?

A large-scale protest took place in Kashmir on Friday afternoon amid heavy security presence, with a crowd estimated to be as large as 10,000 raising slogans and banners opposing the Central government’s latest move to revoke Kashmir’s special status.

The security forces told protestors to turn back. However, when they refused, troops resorted to shooting pellet guns and tear gas into the crowds. News reports said at least eight people were wounded in pellet gun attacks during protests on Friday, but the Union home ministry denied there had been any large-scale demonstration, only ’stray protests’ involving 20 people.

The region has been under a lockdown and a blanket communication ban has been imposed after the Central government revoked Article 370, thus scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcating it into two Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh.

Nearly 46,000 troops have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, a petition signed by 64 citizens of India from Jammu and Kashmir said the “abrogation of Article 370, made in stealth and using coercive means†is “unconstitutional and in violation of the historical promises†made to the people of the state.

Most of the signatories are Kashmiri Pandits, Dogras and Sikhs belonging to the state.

Why Are Kashmiris Feeling Betrayed?

In the article titled ‘Why Revoking Special Status Is the Final Betrayal of Kashmir’, Prem Shankar Jha writes, “India is split over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abolish Article 370 by a presidential order.

“What Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah seem not to care about is the monstrous sense of betrayal that has swept the rest of the Kashmiri people – that 80-90% of the population who have never wanted a complete separation from India, and to whom azadi has always meant full political autonomy but without the severance of Kashmir’s connection with the rest of India.

“This is the vast majority that the government has betrayed. It has done so because of blind adherence to an ideology that, like all others that the world has had to endure, shows no respect for history, and steamrolls facts that do not serve its purpose into the ground. This is the ideology of ‘Hindutva’.â€

What facts is the government ignoring?

“The key fact that the Sangh parivar chooses to ignore is that Kashmiri Islam is entirely different from the Deobandi and Barelvi Islam practised by Sunnis in the rest of the subcontinent.

“History will confirm that Kashmir was the only princely state in which it was the people, through the National Conference, and not solely the Maharaja, who decided to accede to India.

“A long and bloody war will then ensue and terrorism will spread to the rest of India where there is no dearth of soft targets to attack. The hunt for terrorists that will follow will turn India into a police state. Carefully staged fake encounters, which became normal in Gujarat after the 2002 riots, will become the order of the day throughout the country. Muslims will be the main victims.

Kashmiriyat will become a distant memory. That will be the beginning of the end of the India we have known till today,†Jha adds.

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Kashmir: Protests in Srinagar on Friday, MHA Claims Reports ’Fabricated’

Visuals on BBC and Al Jazeera showed a crowd of several thousand, but the Union home ministry denies there had been any large-scale demonstration, only ’stray protests’ involving 20 people.

Kashmir: Protests in Srinagar on Friday, MHA Claims Reports ’Fabricated’

Demonstrators shout slogans outside a hospital emergency unit during a protest after the government scrapped special status for Kashmir, in Srinagar August 9, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

The Wire Staff
Security
10.08.19 9 hours ago

New Delhi: Protests took place in Kashmir on Friday afternoon amid heavy security presence, Reuters, BBC, the Washington Post and Al Jazeera reported, though the Union home ministry denied the news agency’s claims that a crowd estimated to be as large as 10,000 had taken to the streets in Srinagar.

While scores of smaller protests – largely involving young men throwing stones on the security forces – had already taken place, the channel showed video footage depicting a large crowd of protestors, several carrying black flags and holding signs reading ‘Save Article 370,’ purportedly in downtown Srinagar.

On Saturday, the Union home ministry reacted with a statement calling these reports “fabricated and incorrect’.

Al-Jazeera, however, is sticking to its story. Kashmiri reporters familiar with Srinagar told The Wire the footage it showed looked like the Srinagar neighbourhood of Soura. The BBC has also uploaded footage that it says was shot there. These visuals belie the official government claim that there had been no large scale protest.

According to a Washington Post report, from Srinagar, the security forces told protestors to turn back. However, when they refused, troops resorted to pellet guns and tear gas. Eyewitnesses told the Post that at least eight people were wounded in pellet gun attacks on Friday.

“Some women and children even jumped into the water,†a witness told Reuters at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, where pellet victims were admitted. “They [the police] attacked us from two sides,†another protestor told the news agency.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a lockdown and a blanket communication ban has been imposed since the Central government’s revoking of Article 370 – thus scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status – and its bifurcation into two Union Territories – J&K and Ladakh.

Nearly 46,000 troops have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read | Pellet Blindings Back as Protestors Challenge Centre’s Kashmir Move

The Wire has reported that though the terms of the curfew have not been stated or defined formally, amid heavy security presence, there has virtually not been any movement with most parts of the city bearing a deserted look. The mobile and landline network remains shut and internet services have also been snapped.

Indian security force personnel stand guard outside a mosque during restrictions following the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the government, in Jammu August 9, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta

The government-imposed clampdown on movement and the snapping of all means of communication has fuelled anxieties among residents. On the basis of conversations reporters have had with ordinary people in various neighbourhoods of Srinagar, it is evident that anger over the Modi government’s decision runs deep.

While some restrictions on movement were eased on Friday to allow people in Kashmir to offer prayers, the security restrictions were all put back in place – in south Kashmir, north Kashmir and parts of Srinagar – following the protests, Al Jazeera reported.

Also read | In Kashmir, Clampdown on Movement and Communication Fuels Anxieties

A police official told Reuters that 10,000 people attended the protest, first gathering in the Soura area and then being pushed back to the Aiwa bridge. In order to quell protestors, security forces have resorted to firing live bullets in the air and have used tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, according to Al Jazeera.

The Wire‘s ground report from Srinagar has confirmed the use of pellet guns by forces over the last several days, resulting in nearly two dozen young men and boys being admitted with pellet injuries to SHMS hospital – belying official claims that the situation on the ground remains “calm†.

The Wire met with some of the victims and their families in Ward No. 8 of the SMHS hospital in Srinagar on August 8. Some said they were shot during protests in the city’s downtown area while others said they were targeted by the security forces even though there was no protest or stone pelting going on at the time.