OCCUPIED SRINAGAR: With a heavy deployment of troops and curbs on public movement, Indian authorities kept a tight lid on potential protests in the disputed region of occupied Kashmir on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the revocation of its semi-autonomy.
Local politicians were not permitted outside their homes, most likely to prevent them from calling street demonstrations or even from holding meetings, in the strictest lockdown seen in months.
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government stripped occupied Jammu and Kashmir of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighbouring Pakistan.
"One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet, much less carry out any normal political activity," former chief minister of occupied Jammu and Kashmir state Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
"This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir."
Modi's move last year was accompanied by a total communication blackout and mass detentions. Some rights groups have been critical of the government's handling of Kashmir, particularly ongoing internet curbs.
"This has been compounded by a censored media, continuing detention of political leaders, arbitrary restrictions due to the pandemic with little to no redressal," Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, freedomfighters hurled grenades at security forces in occupied south Kashmir's Shopian in two separate attacks, police said. There were no casualties.
Lieutenant General B.S. Raju, the top Indian military commander in the occupied Kashmir valley, said the situation had been largely normal for most of the past year.