OCCUPIED SRINAGAR: Hundreds of extra police and troops were deployed in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) Thursday as groups called for a shutdown to mark a “black day” on the second anniversary of New Delhi imposing direct rule. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government scrapped the Muslim-majority region’s partial autonomy on August 5, 2019, and split it into two federal territories. Thousands were arrested, scores of whom remain behind bars two years on.
Ahead of the second anniversary, security forces erected numerous new checkpoints and barricades across occupied Srinagar, with personnel in bulletproof gear checking vehicles and frisking residents.
Freedom fighters fired live shots in the air in the heart of the congested old occupied town Srinagar where a low intensity explosive device also went off, witnesses said.
In the Sopore area unknown rebels fired at police as authorities tried to force shopkeepers observing the shutdown to open their doors, an officer told AFP. District police denied the incident took place however in a post on Twitter.
Top leader Syed Ali Geelani, 90, had called for a general shutdown to mark a “black day” in protest at “India’s naked aggression”, in a Twitter statement by his Pakistan-based representative.
The call was supported by several smaller groups who also challenge India’s rule.
One group headed by Kashmir’s incarcerated chief cleric and politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq appealed to “citizens of India and the world at large” to see how India’s actions two years ago “complicated” the dispute over the territory further.
On Thursday most shops remained closed in occupied Srinagar and there were few cars on the road, but police in the capital city were seen asking shopkeepers to open.
Many businessmen, without wishing to be named, told AFP that police had threatened them. Local reporters said officers were breaking locks on shutters.
“I was recording video of shuttered shops when police officers arrived and took my photos while I was working and accused myself and journalists of instigating a shutdown,” photojournalist Umer Asif told AFP.
Witnesses and traders in three towns in the volatile occupied southern valley also told AFP that police were threatening and forcing shopkeepers to open their stores.