Fri, Aug 09, 2019 - Page 6 News List

India calls on Pakistan to restore ties

TIGHT GRIP:Fearing protests, at least 300 people have been arrested and thousands of troops deployed, while at least 13 people have been injured by thrown stones

Reuters, SRINAGAR, India

People draw and write messages on a road in New Delhi on Wednesday during a protest against the scrapping of Kashmir’s special status by the Indian government.

Photo: Reuters

India yesterday urged Pakistan to review its decision to downgrade diplomatic ties over the withdrawal of special status to Kashmir, saying that it is an internal affair aimed at developing the revolt-torn region.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the territory’s special privileges to frame its own laws and lifted a ban on people from outside the region to buy property there.

Pakistan, which also has claims on Kashmir, said that it would expel India’s ambassador in Islamabad and its envoy, who was to start his assignment soon, would not move to New Delhi.

Islamabad also suspended bilateral trade and yesterday announced that it would shut down train services to India.

“The government of India regrets the steps announced by Pakistan yesterday and would urge that country to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said.

Within Kashmir, authorities kept a communications blackout with mobile networks and Internet services suspended since Sunday and detaining at least 300 politicians and separatists to quell protests, according to police, media and local leaders.

Regional leaders have warned of a backlash against Modi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s decades-old special status and split the state into two federal territories.

Thousands of paramilitary police have been deployed in Srinagar, as schools remained shut and roads were barricaded.

There have been sporadic protests, two police officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least 13 people have been injured in stone-throwing protests across the city since Tuesday night, one officer said.

Srinagar’s old quarter was locked down on Wednesday evening, with police in riot gear deployed every few meters and barbed-wire checkpoints every few hundred meters.

“There is a lot of anger among the people,” one of the police officials said.

Kashmiris see Modi’s decision as a breach of trust and opening the way to flooding their region with people from the rest of India, eventually altering the demographics of the territory.

Two leaders from the National Conference, a major regional party, said that at least 100 politicians — including former state ministers and legislators — had been detained.

Two former chief ministers of the state are among those detained, they said on condition of anonymity.

India’s Mail Today newspaper said that more than 400 politicians were being held in their homes and guesthouses.

Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella group of nonviolent separatists, has been detained at his home, a statement from his office said.

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