The move comes a day after Indian police used tear gas and pellets to fight back the thousands of people protesting after Delhi unilaterally withdrew Jammu and Kashmir state's autonomous status.

Kashmiri women embark on a march after Friday prayers in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir on  August 9, 2019.
Kashmiri women embark on a march after Friday prayers in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir on August 9, 2019. (AP)

Authorities enforcing a strict curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir will bring in trucks of essential supplies for Eid next week as the divided Himalayan region remains in lockdown following India's decision to strip it of its constitutional autonomy.

The indefinite, 24-hour curfew was briefly eased on Friday for weekly Muslim prayers in some parts of Srinagar, the region's main city, but thousands of residents are still forced to stay indoors, with shops and most health clinics closed. All communications and the internet remain cut off.

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan and is divided between the archrivals.

Rebels have been fighting New Delhi's rule for decades in the Indian-controlled portion and most Kashmiri residents want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as the state is known, that normalcy would gradually return and that the government was ensuring the current restrictions do not dampen the Eid festival on Monday.

New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of additional soldiers to one of the world's most militarised regions to prevent unrest and protests after Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government said on Monday that it was revoking Kashmir's special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.

Modi said the move was necessary to free the region of "terrorism and separatism".

Srinagar has been without internet or phone connectivity for nearly a week and the city's 1.5 million inhabitants are stuck at home unless they have a pass that allows them to bypass the curfew. This file photo was taken on August 8, 2019.
Srinagar has been without internet or phone connectivity for nearly a week and the city's 1.5 million inhabitants are stuck at home unless they have a pass that allows them to bypass the curfew. This file photo was taken on August 8, 2019. (Reuters)

Lid on a kettle

The relaxing of the curfew in Srinagar was temporary, officials said. Friday prayers began at 12:37 pm local time and lasted for about 20 minutes, followed by protests in some parts of the city. Police used tear gas and pellets to fight back the protesters who gathered in their largest numbers since authorities clamped down and detained more than 500 political and separatist leaders.

Other stone-throwing incidents were reported from northern and southern parts of Kashmir.

Authorities were closely watching for any anti-India protests, which will determine a further easing of restrictions for the Eid holiday.

The top administrative official, Baseer Khan, said that essential commodities including food, grains and meat will be delivered to different parts of the region by Sunday.

In the meantime, most residents were waking up before dawn to get food and other supplies stockpiled by neighbourhood shopkeepers and pharmacists inside their homes.

Shortly after dawn, police and paramilitary soldiers swiftly occupy the roads and streets as part of the restrictions on movement.

While some easing on the movement and opening of shops is expected around Eid, officials are still holding reservations against restoring mobile and internet services. Some relaxation of curbs on landline communication, however, could be considered, they said.

Hundreds of migrant labourers from other Indian states also have fled in fear of unrest. Meanwhile, thousands of villagers living along the heavily militarised line of control dividing Pakistani and Indian-administered Kashmir have migrated to safer places in fear of artillery fire exchanges between the rivals.

A Kashmiri man protests the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir in New Delhi, India on August 9, 2019.
A Kashmiri man protests the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir in New Delhi, India on August 9, 2019. (Reuters)

Muted international reaction

The US on Friday said that there has been no change in its policy on Kashmir, as Washington continues to regard it as a territory disputed between India and Pakistan.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus described Kashmir as "certainly an incredibly important issue" that the United States continued to "follow closely".

In Islamabad on Friday, about 8,000 supporters of the Pakistani party Jamaat-e-Islami marched toward the Indian Embassy to denounce New Delhi's action on Kashmir.

Hundreds of activists held similar peaceful rallies across Pakistan.

Pakistan says it is considering a proposal to approach the International Court of Justice over India's action. It also has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade, train and bus services with India.

India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar asked Pakistan to reconsider its decision, but he also said it should accept the reality and "stop interfering in internal affairs of other countries."

Source: AP