Article 370: Kashmir in communication blackout

Army personnel stand guard during restrictions on August 5, 2019 in Jammu, India.Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kashmir is one of the world’s most militarised zones

Indian-administered Kashmir remains in a state of lockdown a day after it was stripped of special status that gave it significant autonomy.

Landlines, mobiles and internet, which were cut off on Sunday evening, are yet to be restored even as tens of thousands of troops patrol the streets.

The revocation of special status was expected to trigger widespread protests, but there is no word on how people have reacted to the news.

Local leaders have also been detained.

The BBC’s Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar who managed to speak to correspondents in Delhi on Monday said “No-one knows what is happening in other parts of the state – we can’t talk to anyone else. People are concerned – they don’t know what is happening, they don’t know what is going to happen.”

Kashmiris in other parts of the country have said that they are unable to get through to their families and have spoken of their worry and fear. One Delhi-based student told the Indian Express newspaper that he had even tried calling the local police station but to no avail.

For many Kashmiris, Article 370 – as the law guaranteeing special status was known – was the main justification for being a part of India and by revoking it, the BJP has irrevocably changed Delhi’s relationship with the region, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey.

The article allowed the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own constitution, a separate flag and the freedom to make laws, though foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government.

As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

The region is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but they each control only parts of it.

There is a long-running insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to a large number of civilian casualties.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tourists were asked to cut short their visit and return home

In the days leading up to home minister Amit Shah’s parliamentary announcement that Article 370 had been revoked, tensions were rife in the valley as tens of thousands of additional troops were deployed to what is already one of the world’s most militarised zones.

Tourists were asked to leave, and Hindu pilgrims making an annual religious trek were also asked to return to their homes. Schools and colleges were shut down. No indication was given about what was being planned.

Assuming the worst, concerned locals stockpiled food for months, our correspondents in the region said.

In anticipation of the communication blackout that was to come, police personnel were issued satellite phones.

Sunday night’s arrest of two former chief ministers was accompanied with all communications being blocked. Since then, the region has been in a virtual blackout with no information coming out.

But additional troops have been deployed following Mr Shah’s announcement.

There has been no indication of when communications will be restored although local news reports said that people were being allowed to enter the region.

Read the full article at: