Incarcerated resistance leaders have urged people to mass march to a UN office in Srinagar city after Friday prayers, the first such call since New Delhi revoked India-administered Kashmir's nominal autonomy, stirring anger in the region and beyond.
Authorities in the main city of India-administered Kashmir tightened security ahead of Friday prayers after pro-independence groups called for a protest march to a UN office, with streets bristling with paramilitary personnel and some blocked by checkpoints.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region's main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest for independence after India's revocation of nominal autonomy that Kashmiris say is aimed to change the region's demography.
The call by resistance groups seeking independence from India and withdrawal of over half a million Indian troops from the region is the first since the decision on August 5 to scrap Article 370, which India followed with a clampdown on communication and movement in disputed Kashmir. Some landlines were restored last week but the curfews and communication blackout remain mostly intact.
The UNMOGIP was set up in 1949 after the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the Himalayan region both countries claim in full but rule in part. The group monitors ceasefire violations along the border between the countries.
"The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people"#UN rights experts decry #India authorities' "intrinsically disproportionate" restrictions, communications blackout, detentions in #Kashmir.— Lotte Leicht (@LotteLeicht1) August 23, 2019
@davidakaye @AgnesCallamard @ForstMichel @cvoulehttps://t.co/qOTVuimQud pic.twitter.com/ETMo614HOy
Trump to discuss Kashmir with Modi
US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G 7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.
Trump, who has offered to mediate between Indian and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir's nominal autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.
French President Emmanuel Macron also warned Modi he was closely monitoring the rights of Kashmiri civilians on both sides of the de facto border or the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.
VIDEO: In an act of defiance against New Delhi's decision to strip Muslim-majority Indian-administered #Kashmir of its autonomy, the #Soura neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city of #Srinagar has sealed itself off from security forces pic.twitter.com/nFWVidQgie— AFP news agency (@AFP) August 22, 2019
Shutting down protests
On Friday, several dozen paramilitary personnel manned at least two barriers on the main road leading to the office of UNMOGIP in Srinagar and public movement around it was blocked.
Entry into the city's old quarter, which has long been a centre for protests, was severely curtailed, as policemen blocked street after street with concertina wire.
Protests have broken out in parts of Srinagar over the last two weeks, some drawing thousands of people.
At least 152 people have been wounded by teargas and pellets since Indian troops launched a sweeping crackdown, data from the Himalayan region's two main hospitals shows.
Large swathes of Srinagar remained deserted with shops shut except for some provision stores with shutters half-down.
Police vans patrolled some areas announcing a curfew and asking people to stay indoors.
On the Dal Lake, long rows of houseboats, which would typically be packed with tourists this time of the year, floated closed and empty, as police patrolled its mirror-calm waters in boats.