Article 370: Curfew in Kashmir as protesters plan ‘black day’

Army personnel stand guard during restrictions on August 5, 2019 in Jammu, India.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption5 August is the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370

Curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of protests ahead of 5 August – the day the government stripped the region of its special status.

Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”.

They said mass gatherings were also not allowed because of Covid-19.

The state was split into two federally-administered regions last year and its semi-autonomous status was revoked.

Reports say there is tension in the region ahead of the anniversary and more troops have been deployed.

The decision to revoke article 370 – the part of the constitution that guaranteed Kashmir special status – was met with anger and betrayal in the region although it was widely welcomed in the rest of the country. Thousands were detained amid a curfew and a communications blackout was ordered.

The region witnessed protests and security forces often clashed with civilians. Thousands of activists and others were believed to have been picked up from their homes in the days that followed the surprise move.

However, due to the strict lockdown and the detention of thousands of people, including three former chief ministers of the state, protests against the move were largely controlled.

Jammu and Kashmir was India’s only Muslim-majority state and anti-India protests have been taking place in the region for decades.

It has long been one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints and is a highly militarised area.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full, but control only parts of it.

The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over Kashmir, most recently clashing in a series of aerial attacks over the territory in February last year.

Presentational grey line

A state of perennial lockdown

Aamir Peerzada, BBC News, Srinagar

Silence haunts the streets of Srinagar, with Indian paramilitary soldiers keeping a close eye on the movement of people.

Soldiers are everywhere, roads are blocked with barbed wire and soldiers’ front barricades. Anyone outside their homes is being questioned.

It seems as though the region has been in perennial lockdown.

The state was under curfew-like conditions for months following the revocation of Kashmir’s special privileges. And then, when things started getting back to normal, the pandemic struck.

All this has taken a massive toll on the people here – who are hoping the curfew will remain in place for just two days and no longer.

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