PM Narendra Modi holds face-to-face talks with several pro-India leaders from disputed Kashmir, the first such meeting since his right-wing government annexed the Himalayan territory, detained thousands and imposed a tough crackdown.
Voting takes place amid heavy security presence in first direct elections in India-administered Kashmir since New Delhi annexed the region last year.
The disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, where only locals could buy and sell land, is no longer out of bounds for investors from mainland India, as New Delhi omits the clause of obtaining domicile status.
In an Independence Day speech, Narendra Modi defended his government's controversial measure to strip India-administered Kashmir of its statehood and constitutional autonomy.
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.
For the first time in more then than 40 years, India and Pakistan attacked each other's territories. The confrontation between the two nuclear-armed nations sparked fears that the conflict may escalate.
Parveena Ahangar who leads the Association of Parents of Missing Persons and lawyer Imroz Parvez who founded the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society are being recognised for their fight against the abuse of power in Indian-administered Kashmir.
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