How people of Kashmir are reacting to India’s crackdown

How people of Kashmir are reacting to India’s crackdown


AMNA NAWAZ: Hundreds of people protested the
security crackdown and clashed with police in Indian-controlled Kashmir today. At the same time, India’s government said
it was reviewing the situation there and would remove restrictions it had placed on the region
two weeks ago, sparking the protest when it removed Kashmir’s autonomous status. Life in Kashmir has been paralyzed. Stores remain closed, and traffic along normally
busy crossroads is thin. Under an unprecedented lockdown, nearly four
million people in the Indian-administered part of the territory have been confined to
their homes in a total communications blackout. BUSHEER AHMED, Kashmir (through translator):
As of now, everything is locked down. Whatever the government has done, it is not
good. Everyone is under house arrest. AMNA NAWAZ: Tensions in the region have escalated
since last week, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the primarily Muslim
state of its semiautonomous status. Kashmir is now in its 13th day under this
crackdown, but authorities say they will soon allow schools and offices to reopen and phone
service to be restored. BVR SUBRAHMANYAM, Chief Secretary, Jammu and
Kashmir: Telecom connectivity, which has been a point of sore concern, will be gradually
eased and restored in a phased manner, keeping in mind the constant threat posed by terrorist
organizations in using mobile connectivity to organize terror actions. AMNA NAWAZ: Despite the measures to prevent
unrest, anger at India’s government for revoking Kashmir’s autonomy has fueled sporadic street
protests and sometimes violent confrontations. Control of Kashmir has been contested by India
and Pakistan since the 1947 post-colonial partition that separated the two countries. The nuclear-armed neighbors each administer
parts of the region separated by the line of control. The countries have already fought three times
over Kashmir. Now Prime Minister Modi has defended this
takeover as a national security decision to quell attacks from separatist militants in
Kashmir, which Pakistan has supported in the past. But, on Twitter today, Pakistani Prime Minister
Imran Khan called India’s actions — quote — “fascist tactics” that will not — quote
— “smother the Kashmiri liberation struggle.” Khan expressed his concerns with President
Trump over a telephone call this morning. Mr. Trump said he would soon hold talks with
Prime Minister Modi. Also today, at the request of Pakistan, the
U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss Kashmir for the first time in more
than 50 years. China’s U.N. envoy urged both countries to
avoid taking unilateral action over the region. ZHANG JUN, Chinese Ambassador to the United
Nations: The tension is already very tense and very dangerous. AMNA NAWAZ: But India’s ambassador to the
U.N. called the situation an internal matter. SYED AKBARUDDIN, Indian Ambassador to the
United Nations: We don’t need international busybodies to try and tell us how to run our
lives. AMNA NAWAZ: For more on what things are like
on the ground in Kashmir, we’re joined by Surabhi Tandon. She’s special correspondent for France 24,
who just returned from a five-day trip there. Surabhi, welcome to the “NewsHour.” Let’s start with what you saw and heard from
Kashmiris on the ground who are living through this lockdown. SURABHI TANDON, France 24: Well, I was in
Srinagar for about five days, and I tried to visit as many neighborhoods as possible. Of course, the security situation sort of
changed every day, in that the extent of the curfew-like situations were changing each
day that I was there. But, for the most part, people in Srinagar,
where I was, were under a fair amount of lockdown. Movement was restricted. In fact, if you didn’t have a curfew pass
or a reason to go to the hospital or chemist, something that was urgent, you weren’t really
allowed to move around between neighborhoods. This is for civilians. For journalists as well, we were guarded in
most areas we went to. There were some no-go zones. Of course, I was also there during the time
of Eid, which was this Monday. So, on Saturday, which was the 11th of August,
the government did ease up restrictions. They opened up some markets in parts of the
city. And that’s when you saw a fair amount of movement,
people coming out, buying things in preparation for the festival, but also buying things to
stock up, because nobody knows even at this point how long these curfew-like situations
are going to last. AMNA NAWAZ: So, Surabhi, what was the reaction
on the ground when India first made this move to revoke autonomy? A lot of people are wondering why we didn’t
see larger-scale protests. SURABHI TANDON: Well, I would say, first of
all, that’s because not possible at the moment with this military presence that is in the
valley. Now, Kashmir is already one of the world’s
most militarized zones. And before the fifth of August, 45,000 extra
troops were brought in. So that’s almost one military personnel for
10 civilians. So you see this military presence everywhere,
and especially in areas that have frequent protests. They were such no-go zones that even we weren’t
allowed. There were giant vans that blockaded the roads. People were barely allowed to walk through,
no cars, of course, no public transport going in. There was one large protest on Friday, the
day that I arrived, which has been reported by some media outlets, but the reason that
these were contained is because of the heavy military presence that surrounds these neighborhoods. Already, with these small protests, you had
the military throwing in tear gases, in fact, also using pellet guns. This is happening on the ground. AMNA NAWAZ: When we talk about the future
of Kashmir, we hear a lot from both leaders in India and Pakistan. You have been talking to people on the ground
on the Indian-administered side. What is it they say they want for their future? SURABHI TANDON: In Kashmir, when you say what
do people want in the future, well, first of all, they say — the people that I spoke
to say that they don’t agree with this decision, because they weren’t included in the decision. They feel that it’s another decision made
by the Indian state that has been forced on them. And as we have seen this resistance for many
years in Kashmir, this resistance will continue. And some, of course, said that now this resistance
perhaps might even become more extreme. The people in the middle, their argument to
stay in India, to be pro-India has suddenly become irrelevant. And so a lot of people now perhaps feel that
they are on one side, which is anti-being part of the Indian state. And what will happen, how this angle — and
how this angle will erupt is to be seen. AMNA NAWAZ: That is Surabhi Tandon, special
correspondent for France 24, reporting from New Delhi tonight. Thank you very much.

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