India, bracing for protests, puts Kashmir on lockdown

Press TV- India has placed Kashmir under high security order and deployed tens of thousands of government forces to the volatile Himalayan region on the death anniversary of a popular pro-independence figure.

The curfew was enforced in the Indian-administered Kashmir on Saturday, with the government cutting off all internet services and blocking all roads leading to Tral, the hometown of the 23-year-old Burhan Wani, the independence figure who was killed in a shootout with Indian troops last July.

Indian paramilitary troopers patrol during a curfew in Srinagar, Kashmir, July 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

“I have never seen restrictions of this magnitude before,” said one local speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that residents would be shot if they left their homes.

Reports said businesses remained closed in the main city of Srinagar, and authorities seized thousands of motorbikes to prevent people traveling between villages in the area.

Indian paramilitary troopers stop and search Kashmiri commuters during a curfew in Srinagar, July 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Wani’s death in July 2016 sparked a large wave of violent protests across Kashmir. Nearly 100 people lost their lives and over 12,000 were wounded in the ensuing crackdown.

The anniversary comes at a time of heightened tensions along the Line of Control, the de-facto border that divides the disputed Himalayan territory between India and Pakistan.

Angry locals clash with security forces

Witnesses and police also said clashes erupted when a number of people found their way to their homes blocked and started pelting stones at government forces. Security forces were prompted to fire tear gas in order to disperse the crowd. No one was immediately reported injured in the clashes.

Tensions are high in the Indian-administrated Kashmir region, where the Muslim-majority population stages regular protests against Indian rule and demands autonomy from New Delhi.

Kashmiri protesters clash with Indian government forces in downtown Srinagar, June 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier in an attempt to launch attacks on Indian forces. Pakistan strongly denies the allegations.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both since the two partitioned and gained independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed territory. Despite a ceasefire agreement that was reached in November 2003, sporadic skirmishes continue in Kashmir.

New Delhi has deployed some 500,000 soldiers to the disputed region to further boost the security of the borderline and enforce a crackdown on pro-independence demonstrations in its share of Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments are high.