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At least 4,000 arrested in 'sweeping' Indian crackdown on Kashmir

An official tally has not yet been released [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 August, 2019

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Officials have not yet given a tally of arrests but unnamed government sources said thousands have been detained so far, many of them shipped to prisons outside of Kashmir.
Thousands of people have been detained in Kashmir since New Delhi stripped the Indian-administered Himalayan region of its autonomy two weeks ago, government sources said.

At least 4,000 people have been arrested and held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial law allowing authorities to jail someone for up to two years without charge, a magistrate told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

Most of the people detained have been moved to prisons outside of Kashmir, the magistrate said, explaining that prisons in the area had "run out of capacity".

The figure of 4,000 was compiled by the magistrate using a satellite phone to communicate with colleagues across the region and collate their figures, he said. Authorities have refused to provide an official tally of how many people have been detained.

Kashmir was under a total communications blackout since India revoked the region's semi-autonomous status, with all telephone and internet service cut.

At least 4,000 people have been arrested and held under the Public Safety Act, a controversial law allowing authorities to jail someone for up to two years without charge

That blackout was alleviated on Saturday, when authorities introduced landline service in parts of Srinagar, the largest city in the region. Landline service is expected to be fully operational in most areas of Kashmir by Sunday evening.

The internet and mobile phone services remain blocked, however.

Before this tally, officials had only confirmed that more than a hundred local politicians, activists and academics had been detained in the first few days after Kashmir was stripped of its special status.

They had said that the "few preventive detentions" were made in order to avoid a "breach of the peace" in a region that has hosted an armed rebellion against Indian rule for three decaces.

Speaking to numerous government officials in Srinagar, AFP confirmed that arrests have been sweeping.

Read more: After decades of failed promises, India's assault on Kashmir's autonomy invites a bleaker future

One police official said "around 6,000 people were medically examined at a couple of places in Srinagar after they were detained".

"They are first sent to the central jail in Srinagar and later flown out of here in military aircrafts," he added.

Another security official stated "thousands" had been jailed but that the figure did not include residents whose detentions at police stations had not been recorded.

Periodic protests have shook Srinagar and other cities in Kashmir since the August 5 decision. 

Although international media cannot determine the size of the protests at this time, thousands of arrests in Srinagar indicate that the gatherings are unlikely to be insignificant.

Clashes between protesters and police erupted on Saturday in Srinagar's old city, with dozens injured and one dead due to tear gas and chilli grenade inhalation, according to Reuters.

Protesters threw stones at security forces who responded by firing tear gas, chilli grenades and pellets.

Both Reuters and the Press Trust of India news agency reported that, amid growing clashes, Indian troops reinstated restrictions on movement on Sunday.



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