All communications and the internet remain cut off for the eighth day. The security lockdown is apparently aimed at avoiding a backlash to the Indian government stripping the only Muslim-majority region of its autonomy.

A man walks past security personnel guarding a street during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 11, 2019, after the Indian government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy.
A man walks past security personnel guarding a street during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 11, 2019, after the Indian government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP)

New Delhi's troops clamped tight restrictions on mosques across India-administered Kashmir for Monday's Eid al Adha festival, according to residents, after stripping the Muslim-majority region's autonomy.

The Himalayan region's biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered closed and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses said.

All communications and the internet remained cut off for an eighth day. People outside India-administered Kashmir have not managed to make contact with relatives who, in a first in ages, also don't have access to telephone lines. 

TRT World's Reagan Des Vignes reports.

Authorities had eased restrictions temporarily on Sunday to let residents buy food and supplies for Eid, one of the most important Muslim festivals of the year.

But security was tightened again after sporadic protests involving hundreds of people during the day, residents said. 

Police vans toured the streets late Sunday telling people to stay indoors.

"I can't believe we are forced to be in our homes on this festival.
This is the festival of joy and happiness," resident Shanawaz Shah told AFP.

In a tight grip

Magistrate Shahid Choudhary tweeted on late Sunday that he held a meeting with religious leaders for prayer arrangements and visited several venues.

Also on Sunday, as people were shopping in Srinagar, the New Delhi Television News  (NDTV) channel showed video of jeeps fitted with loudspeakers moving in the region after lunchtime, telling people to return to their homes and shopkeepers to shut markets. 

NDTV said the move may have been prompted by sporadic clashes that took place in Srinagar after the restrictions were relaxed on Saturday.

The restrictions were briefly eased on Friday for residents to attend mosque prayers. 

After Friday prayers, Srinagar, the main city in India-administered Kashmir, saw mass protests where armed forces used teargas shells, pellets and rubber bullets on protesters, while also firing live bullets into the air to disperse the crowd, Kashmiri journalist Mohammad Haziq reported.

Militarised region

New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of additional soldiers to one of the world’s most militarised regions before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government announced revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood to two separate federal territories. 

Modi claims the move was necessary to free the region of “terrorism and separatism," but many fear it's a pretext to re-populate the Muslim majority region with Hindus.

India maintains a deployment of 500,000 heavily-armed troops in the tiny Himalayan region, which has been divided between the South Asian nation and Pakistan since their split in 1947. 

Kashmir is claimed in full by both Pakistan and India.

What did Article 370 give Kashmir?

The key tenant scrapped by Modi was a formalisation of the then independent princely state of Jammu and Kashmir's 1947 accession treaty with India.

Two months after India won independence from British rule in August 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the then-ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, signed a Treaty of Accession for the state to join the rest of the union, formalised in Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Then governor-general and last viceroy Lord Mountbatten backed his decision with an understanding that this would only be temporary accession prior to "a referendum or a plebiscite."

Under the accession terms, India's jurisdiction was to extend to Kashmir's external affairs, defence and communications.

The law, Article 370 of the Constitution, forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.

Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, New Delhi hopes to change India-administered Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.

What do Kashmiris want?

Resistance groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country in a UN-backed or sponsored plebiscite.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. 

Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the armed rebellion and civil uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.

India has accused Pakistan of arming rebels and sending in militants to support the independence movement. Pakistan denies the claims. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies