Text messaging services were blocked in Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said yesterday.
Separately, officials said a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border.
Three people – a father and his two children aged 10 and 11 – were killed in a Pakistani district next to the Line of Control after mortar shells hit their homes, officials said yesterday.
Indian security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the region imposed after New Delhi scrapped Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.
The 7million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley – the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule – are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Article 370 of the constitution which gave Kashmir autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
Also yesterday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They were carrying placards which read, ‘Kashmiri brides not for sale’, ‘Why downgrade Jammu and Kashmir state’. Moments after the women protesters spoke to the media, police swung into action and took them away to the nearby police station.
“We want to know the fate of those who have been detained, that’s why we are protesting,” said Muslim Jan, an academic.
“The government of India is telling the world that we are happy, somebody should speak to us to find out how we are feeling, we are not happy, there are restrictions in Kashmir, we are highlighting those issues,” said Hawa Bashir, also an academic.
“We the women of Kashmir disapprove of the unilateral decision taken by the government of India to revoke article 370 and 35A and downgrade the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” a statement by the protesting women said.
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