UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Indian authorities in Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 people since the abolition of the region’s special status last month, the clearest evidence yet of the scope of the security crackdown there, government data showed.
The Muslim-majority region, claimed by India and Pakistan, has been in turmoil since India abolished the special status of its territory on August 5, sparking clashes between security forces and residents and fueling tensions with Pakistan. The special status ensured autonomy for the Territory.
India says abolishing the status quo, which has existed since independence from Britain in 1947, will help integrate the region into the Indian economy for the benefit of all.
Indian authorities have cut Internet and mobile services and imposed curfew-like measures in many parts of the region in a bid to curb protests in Kashmir after the decision.
A government report dated September 6, seen by Reuters, showed that Indian authorities had also arrested more than 3,800 people but released 2,600 of them since then.
A spokeswoman for India’s Home Ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir police did not respond to a request for comment.
It was unclear on what basis the authorities had arrested most of them, but an Indian official said some had been arrested under the province’s public safety law, which allows for up to two years of detention without charge.
The data show for the first time the scope of the arrests.
The authorities arrested more than 200 politicians, including two former ministers in the region, in addition to more than 100 leaders and activists from an organization under which political groups loyal to the secession of the province.
A police source said authorities had attributed the arrest of more than 3,000 detainees to “stone throwing and other illegal acts”.
Amnesty International has described the security campaign as “clearly defined and unprecedented” in the region’s recent history and that the arrests have contributed to a climate of “widespread fear and exclusion”.
India says the arrests are necessary to maintain order and prevent violence and cite the limited number of casualties compared to previous waves of unrest.
The government says only one person was killed compared to dozens who died in 2016 when the killing of a leader of an armed group led to widespread violence.
The report included data from 13 police stations located in the Kashmir Valley, the most populous region in which Srinagar, the main city, is also located.
The data showed that the largest number of arrests, approximately 1,000, took place in Srinagar. The upheaval had previously erupted in rural areas.
Police have also arrested more than 150 people accused of links to armed groups fighting Indian rule.
An Indian official said more than 1,200 were still likely to be detained, including senior and separatist politics, while dozens of people were arrested daily.
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