Kashmir leaders under house arrest as unrest grows


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Media caption‘We are scared to stay here’ – Tourists react to terror threat alert

Top politicians in Indian-administered Kashmir have been put under house arrest, days after thousands of troops were deployed to the disputed region.

Public meetings have been banned and reports say mobile networks and the internet have been restricted.

Last week authorities also ordered tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave, citing a “terror threat” against an annual pilgrimage to a major shrine.

It is unclear what is behind the latest moves, which have stoked tensions.

It was in the early hours of Monday that two former chief ministers of Indian-administered Kashmir, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were placed under house arrest.

The two leaders tweeted late on Sunday night about their impending house arrests and the situation there.

No explanation has been given yet but it comes amid speculation Delhi might be poised to remove Kashmir’s special privileges, such as a provision which prevents people from outside the state buying land there.

Earlier, the detained politicians and other leaders issued a resolution warning Delhi of “consequences” if it “changed the special status of Kashmir”.

A cabinet meeting has been scheduled for 09:30 local time (04:00 GMT).

India’s ruling BJP party stated in its manifesto that it would aim to revoke the part of the constitution, Article 35A, that means only permanent residents can buy land in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Such a move would spark anger and escalate tensions with Pakistan. India and Pakistan both claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir, but control only parts of it.

In addition to the evacuation order in the wake of the terror warnings issued by the authorities, there have also been reports of skirmishes across the de facto border in recent days.

India accuses Pakistan of backing militant groups based in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

The influx of troops, the terror warnings and the speculation about Kashmir’s status have alarmed residents across the Indian-ruled region, many of whom queued for hours outside petrol stations, supermarkets and cash machines.

The last time comparable restrictions were imposed on Kashmir was in 2016 after the killing of a popular rebel leader sparked months of street protests that left dozens dead.

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