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Jammu and Kashmir: Indian forces crack down on Kashmiri leaders

24th Feb 2019
Jammu and Kashmir: Indian forces crack down on Kashmiri leaders

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA): The Indian government has airlifted 100 companies of paramilitary soldiers to Jammu and Kashmir and launched a crackdown on Kashmiri leaders, media reports said on Saturday.

A notice from the Home Ministry in the Indian capital New Delhi led to 10,000 additional paramilitary soldiers being airlifted to Srinagar, according to NDTV, a local broadcaster.

The move came two days before the Indian Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Article 35A of the Indian constitution, which protects the disputed region from demographic change.

Meanwhile, major pro-independence leaders, including Yasin Malik, and dozens of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, have been arrested since Friday’s night, the broadcaster said.

According to Kashmir News Service, top police official in the region said the latest crackdown and the additional deployment forces is “purely” part of an election exercise undertaken to “ensure free and fair polls” in the region.

The official, according to the news service, said they would not allow any election boycott campaign in the region.

“Strongly Condemn the nocturnal crackdown on Jamat e Islami leadership and cadres and the arrest of Yasin Malik. Such illegal and coercive measures against Kashmiris are futile and will not change realities on ground. Force and intimidation will only worsen the situation,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a pro-independence leader, tweeted.

Kashmir is tense with apprehensions that India is going to remove the Article 35A, and thereby change the demography and the Muslim majority character of the region. It is this article that prevents non-Kashmiris from owning property in Kashmir.

The ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party in India has always stated the abrogation of Article 35A as its goal.

Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

[Photo: Residents move to safer locations near the encounter site, where nine people including four Indian army men, three militants, a policeman and a civilian were killed in fierce gun-battle between militants, in Pinglena area of Pulwama, Srinagar, Kashmir, India on February 18, 2019. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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