Security forces detained 30 people overnight in Jammu and Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, local officials said yesterday, seeking to keep a tight lid on protests over the federal government’s decision to strip the state of its autonomy.
Crowds have demonstrated frequently in the city despite a severe clampdown on phone and Internet services, a ban on public gatherings and detentions of hundreds of political leaders and separatists who have long campaigned for secession from India.
Youth have thrown stones at paramilitary police deployed in Srinagar, and the latest detentions took place in parts of the city where such incidents have occurred, a police officer said.
“These arrests have been made in the areas where there has been intensifying stone pelting in the last few days,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
A local government official confirmed the latest detentions.
The withdrawal of the special privileges of Muslim majority Kashmir means residents of all parts of India can buy property and compete for government jobs and college places, raising fears that it will be flooded with outsiders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise move has also increased tensions with Pakistan which has accused India of human rights violations in the territory at the heart of more than 70 years of hostility between them.
Authorities in Kashmir on Monday said the protests were local and small in nature involving no more than a dozen people.
Still, primary schools remained deserted yesterday as they were the previous day as parents worried about the safety of their children kept them at home.
Reuters visited three schools in Srinagar including Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School and no students had turned up and classes were deserted.
“Some teachers reported to duty but left as there were no students”, said an official of the school.
Authorities had ordered schools to reopen on Monday after a two-week closure as a sign of normalcy.
Srinagar’s top city official Shahid Choudhary asked schools to ensure resumption of bus services.
A driver, however, said it was difficult to operate buses in such a volatile situation.
“It is very risky for us and the students,” he said.
In a related development, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was again prevented from attending a meeting with party workers in Jammu after he arrived in the city.
According to Congress leaders, Azad, who landed at Jammu airport earlier in the day, was received by police officers and was told he would not be allowed to go out of the airport.
Azad then took the last flight from Jammu to Delhi.
Last week, Azad was detained at the airport when he went to hold a meeting with party leaders.
On August 16, the police had also arrested Congress’ Jammu and Kashmir chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir along with party spokesperson Ravinder Sharma in Jammu.
On August 9, CPI and CPM general secretaries D Raja and Sitaram Yechury were also detained at the Srinagar airport on their arrival in the state.
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