Hundreds Clash With Police In Indian Kashmir Ahead Of Security Council Meeting
By RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal August 16, 2019
Hundreds of protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir have clashed with police, even as New Delhi said it would begin easing restrictions in the disputed region after a nearly two-week communications blackout.
The August 16 clashes came as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump about Kashmir, and ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Muslim-majority territory later in the day.
"Today [Khan] has talked to President Trump. Views were exchanged on the situation in the region and particularly the situation in occupied Kashmir," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad.
During a meeting with Khan in July, Trump said that Modi had asked him to help mediate the Kashmir dispute -- a claim New Delhi vehemently denied.
The Indian-controlled territory has been under lockdown since the first week of August, when New Delhi stripped it of its special autonomy status.
Carrying green Islamic flags and placards reading "Stop genocide in Kashmir, wake up world," protesters took to the streets in Srinagar, the region's main city, after Friday Prayers.
Some hurled stones and clashed with security forces, who responded with tear gas and pellets fired from shotguns.
No injuries were reported.
Sporadic clashes were also reported in other parts of the territory.
The confrontations occurred as a top Indian official, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, said that the authorities would begin restoring phone lines in Kashmir, including in Srinagar, on August 16 in the evening.
Subrahmanyam did not say whether mobile phones and Internet connections would also be reinstated.
He said the restoration would "[keep] in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist organizations in using mobile connectivity to organize terrorist actions".
India deployed 10,000 additional troops -- joining the half-million already in the Indian-controlled territory -- fearing a potentially violent response to its move to end Kashmir's autonomous status.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Two of the three wars between the two nuclear-armed neighbors were fought over the territory.
In a rare step, the UN Security Council met to discuss the situation behind closed doors on August 16.
Ahead of the meeting, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, told reporters that the situation in Kashmir was "already very tense and very dangerous," and that Security Council members generally feel India and Pakistan should both refrain from unilateral action over the territory.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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