In Indian-administrated Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, Indian security forces have cracked down on protesters, firing live ammunition and tear gas to dispel the mass crowds.
This follows the recent decision by the Indian government to revoke Article 370 of India's constitution, stripping backing regional decision-making powers and eliminating its right to its own constitution. In addition to repealing Article 370, India has downgraded Kashmir from statehood to two federally administrated territories - Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh which will be controlled by New Delhi.
The protest is reported to have been attended by 10,000 people and reports also indicate that the Indian government sent an additional 10,000 troops to crackdown on protests in the region. On Monday, Indian officials imposed a curfew on parts of the territory, arrested political leaders and shut down telecommunications. Al Jazeera notes that there are close to 700,000 Indian soldiers currently deployed in Kashmir.
Protesters and militant separatists have demanded independence from India or a merger with Pakistan. They alleged that revoking Article 370 is part of a broader goal to shift demographics in the Muslim-majority region to favor of India’s Hindu nationalist government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has denied these claims stating that the decision to revoke the article was necessary to free the region from "terrorism and separatism”. He further claimed that this would enable India to bolster economic growth in the region and would speed up development projects.
Responding to India’s decision both China and Pakistan have protested the revoking of Article 370.
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Indian envoys were expelled; trade between Pakistan and India has been suspended; cross-border train services have been stopped and Indian films have been banned.
On Friday, thousands gathered in Pakistan’s cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, and Quetta to protest India’s decision. In Karachi, protesters set fire to effigies of Modi calling him a “terrorist” and criticising the United Nations for inaction.
China's foreign ministry released a statement reading:
"China will continue to firmly support the Pakistan side in safeguarding its legitimate rights,”
"Both Pakistan and India are China's friendly neighbours ... We call on both sides to focus on national development and peace in South Asia,"
China’s statement further called for this dispute to be resolved at the United Nations.
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