Primary schools remained deserted on Tuesday despite authorities demanding that schools be reopened on Monday.

Security personnel stand guard near a closed school in India-administered Kashmir's Srinagar city on August 19, 2019.
Security personnel stand guard near a closed school in India-administered Kashmir's Srinagar city on August 19, 2019. (AFP)

New Delhi's security forces detained 30 people overnight in India-administered Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, local officials said on Tuesday, seeking to keep a tight lid on protests over the federal government's decision to strip the disputed region of its autonomy on August 5.

Crowds have demonstrated frequently in the city despite a severe clampdown on phone and internet services, a ban on public gatherings and detentions of hundreds of political leaders and separatists who have long campaigned for secession from India. Earlier protests resulted in Indian forces shooting pellet guns – their standard response to unrest which has led to blinding numerous young Kashmiris.

Youth pelted stones at paramilitary police deployed in Srinagar, and the latest detentions took place in parts of the city where such incidents have occurred, a police officer said on Tuesday.

"These arrests have been made in the areas where there has been intensifying stone-pelting in the last few days,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

A local government official confirmed the latest detentions.

A divided Kashmir

New Delhi's decision to revoke laws key to the accession treaty of India's only Muslim-majority region, along with a communications blackout and curbs on movement, had caused international outrage as well as fury in Pakistan, which cut trade and transport links and expelled India's envoy in retaliation.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which gained independence in 1947 when British colonialists left the subcontinent and claim the region in its entirety.

Since partition, the two countries have fought three wars –– 1948, 1965 and 1971 –– two of them over Kashmir, in addition to a three-week-long Kargil skirmish in 1999.

The 1948 war had ended with the region divided between them, though both claim it entirely, and also resulted in the unfulfilled promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on the future of the disputed region.

The Security Council has adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades.

Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Kashmiris fear India's move to put the region under greater New Delhi control and allowing non-residents to buy property there will alter its demographics and cultural identity.

US President Donald Trump spoke to Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urging them to reduce tensions over Kashmir. "A tough situation, but good conversations!" Trump said in a Twitter post after the calls.

Men with pellet injuries are treated inside a house in a neighbourhood where there have been regular clashes with Indian security forces following restrictions after the government scrapped the decades old constitutional autonomy for India-administered Kashmir, in Srinagar on August 14, 2019.
Men with pellet injuries are treated inside a house in a neighbourhood where there have been regular clashes with Indian security forces following restrictions after the government scrapped the decades old constitutional autonomy for India-administered Kashmir, in Srinagar on August 14, 2019. (AFP Archive)

Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday said the protests were local and small in nature and involved no more than a dozen people. 

Still, primary schools remained deserted on Tuesday, as they were the previous day, as parents worried about the safety of their children kept them at home.

“Some teachers reported to duty but left as there were no students”, said an official of the school.

Authorities had ordered schools to reopen on Monday after a two-week closure as a sign of normalcy. Srinagar's top city official Shahid Choudhary asked schools to ensure the resumption of bus services.

A driver, however, said it was difficult to operate buses in such a volatile situation. “It is very risky for us and the students," he said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies