The Supreme Court is hearing an activist's petition seeking to lift curbs on communications and movement that have disrupted normal life and essential services in the Himalayan region.

An Indian police officer stands behind the concertina wire during restrictions on Eid al Adha after the scrapping of India-administered Kashmir's constitutional autonomy by New Delhi in Srinagar. August 12, 2019.
An Indian police officer stands behind the concertina wire during restrictions on Eid al Adha after the scrapping of India-administered Kashmir's constitutional autonomy by New Delhi in Srinagar. August 12, 2019. (Reuters)

Indian authorities need more time to restore order in Kashmir, a Supreme Court justice said on Tuesday as a security clampdown entered its ninth day since New Delhi revoked the region's special status, triggering protests.

The court is hearing an activist's petition seeking to lift curbs on communications and movement that have disrupted normal life and essential services in the Himalayan region.

Telephone lines and Internet and television networks have been blocked since August 5, when India withdrew Jammu and Kashmir state's right to frame its own laws, and allowed non-residents to buy property there.

Restrictions on movement and assembly, including a ban on gatherings of more than four people, were tightly enforced on Tuesday in the region's main city, Srinagar.

Menaka Guruswamy, a lawyer for the petitioner, said the court should move to restore hospital services and open schools.

The petition also seeks the release of detained political leaders in Kashmir, among more than 300 people held to prevent widespread protests.

The court is expected to rule on the petition in a few days.

Indian troops patrolling the disputed region had allowed some Muslims to walk to mosques to mark the Eid al Adha festival on Monday, and shops had opened briefly on previous days.

But residents of India's only Muslim-majority region were running short of essentials under the near-constant curfew and communications blackout imposed by India after it stripped Kashmir of its autonomy on August 5.

While Kashmiris are often prepared with stocks of essentials, there are concerns that people with chronic illnesses or emergencies are not equipped to handle the blockade.

Both India and Kashmir administer a portion of Kashmir and claim the entire region in full. In Indian-administered Kashmir, rebels have been fighting against of Indian rule and Kashmiris demand independence.

Witnesses described hundreds of people chanting "We want freedom" and "Go India, go back" during a brief protest Monday after Eid al Adha prayers. The site was contained by security forces who, by many accounts, used force to break up a much bigger protest after Friday prayers. Officials said Monday's protest ended peacefully.

The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India's independence day. Images shared by news agency ANI showed Indian forces preparing for August 15 in Srinagar.

The Chinese question

Top Indian and Chinese diplomats also met in Beijing on Monday with China's official Xinhua News Agency saying Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar that China hopes India will "play a constructive role in regional peace and stability."

Xinhua cited Jaishankar as saying India would "abide by the consensus reached with China on maintaining peace in the border and continue to work with China to properly solve the border issue through consultations."

The countries went to war in 1962 over their disputed border and their armed forces engaged in a 10-week standoff in the neighbouring state of Bhutan in 2017.

Redrawing Kashmir's map

China claims some 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles) of territory in India's northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas, including the Ladakh region, which New Delhi this month made into a territory separate from the rest of India-administered Kashmir.

The visit to China by the Indian foreign minister came shortly after that by his counterpart from Pakistan. 

Pakistan sought Chinese support in opening a United Nations inquiry into India's revocation of Article 370.

Kashmiris fear India's moves to bring the region under greater control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said its decisions to downgrade Kashmir from statehood to a territory would free it from "terrorism".

A torrent of online posts by men from across India who expressed enthusiasm about marrying "fair-skinned" women from Kashmir erupted after the sudden removal of the disputed region's constitutional autonomy made it more appealing to do so.

Supporters of Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party had flooded social media with jubilant posts after the change.

Adding to those voices on Wednesday was a BJP lawmaker, Vikram Saini, seen urging party workers to marry "Kashmiri girls" in a video clip.

"We can get the bachelors among our party workers married there now, there is no problem," Saini, standing in front of a Modi poster at a rally in northern India, added. "Our Muslim party workers should be happy, now they can go and marry fair-skinned Kashmiri girls."

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir where rebels have been fighting New Delhi's rule for decades. Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. 

India and Pakistan fought two wars over Kashmir. The first one ended in 1948 with the region divided between them and a promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.

Islamabad has denounced the changes as illegal and in response has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services with India.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies