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Kashmir’s pro-India parties fume as police foil meeting

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday did not allow pro-India parties to hold a meeting.

This came as the Muslim-majority region marked the first anniversary of India’s unilateral decision to scrap its semi-autonomous status.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “One year on, this is Gupkar road today – police vehicles opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals & no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of MAINSTREAM parties to deliberate on the current situation.”

He posted pictures of police vehicles outside his residence on Gupkar Road, which houses official and private residences of top politicians.

“Clearly the meeting is not being allowed to go ahead. The BJP [ruling Bharatiya Janata Party] gets to announce a 15-day celebration to mark 5th Aug & a handful of us aren’t allowed to meet in my father’s lawn. So much for BJP national leaders wondering why there is no political activity,” Omar Abdullah wrote in another tweet.

Last year on the eve of India’s controversial move, all major pro-India parties — except the BJP — met at the residence of Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah’s father and three-time former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

The participants pledged to fight for safeguarding the special status of Kashmir, but hours later most of them were put under house arrest including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and another former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

More blockades

Local left-wing leader Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami tweeted that “he was not allowed” to attend the meeting called to “discuss political challenges the region is facing”.

Imran Nabi, spokesman of the National Conference which is headed by Farooq Abdullah, told Anadolu Agency that two party members — Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone — who are also members of the Indian parliament were prevented from attending the meeting.

He said while Masoodi was turned back by the police a short distance away from the meeting spot, Lone was not even allowed to leave his home.

Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party which shared power with the BJP until 2018, had announced to observe Black Day on Aug. 5.

Her daughter, Iltija Mufti tweeted a photograph showing four party workers holding posters that read Black Day.

The mother-daughter duo are still in preventive detention.

“Despite the stringent & unofficial curfew, a handful of PDP workers managed to stage a protest in Srinagar today. The number might seem insignificant but symbolises how tough it is for the people of J&K to peacefully protest,” Iltija Mufti tweeted.

Strict restrictions were imposed in the region to forestall protests. Since early morning policemen and paramilitary personnel were seen stopping people at important intersections, some of which were blocked with concertina wire or iron barricades.

Disputed region

Jammu and Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971, and a limited war in Kargil in 1999 — three of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

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