Thousands protest in Britain for Kashmir outside Indian High Commission

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Thousands of people, many waving Pakistani and Kashmiri flags, protested outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday in support of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India’s decision to revoke special status for its portion of Kashmir, along with a communications blackout and curbs on movement, caused fury in Pakistan, which cut trade and transport links and expelled India’s envoy in retaliation.

In London, protesters carried banners saying “Kashmir is Burning”, “Free Kashmir” and “Modi: Make Tea Not War”, according to a Reuters reporter.

A small counter-demonstration was kept apart from the main protest by the police.

Four people were arrested for affray, obstruction of police and possession of an offensive weapon, police said.

“One person was injured during the demonstrations,” they said.

A Reuters photograph showed police carrying away a large curved knife from the protest.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered an Independence Day speech on Thursday that spotlighted his decision to remove the special rights of Kashmir among the bold moves of his second term.

Many of the London protesters had come to the capital from other English cities on specially chartered buses.

“We want to show our solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers,” said Amin Tahir, a British pensioner of Kashmiri origin who came from Birmingham on one of the coaches.

“Since 1947 Kashmir has been struggling to be free from India. Now Modi has changed the law by force to stop Kashmir’s autonomy,” he said. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle; Editing by Stephen Addison and Alistair Bell)

Indian troops detain Kashmiri journalist
Reuters By Fayaz Bukhari,Reuters Thu, Aug 15 12:31 PM EDT
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Indian security force personnel patrol a road during restrictions after the government scrapped the special constitutional status for Kashmir, in Srinagar
By Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Indian troops detained a Kashmiri reporter working for a local newspaper in an overnight raid at his house in the Tral area of Southern Pulwama district, his family said on Thursday.

Irfan Ahmad Malik, 28, works for Greater Kashmir, the largest circulation daily newspaper in the Kashmir valley. It was not immediately clear why he had been detained.

The arrest comes as the Kashmir region remains under a clampdown by the Indian army and police, including the blacking out of phone and internet connections, in lockstep with the Indian government’s announcement on Aug. 5 that it was taking away special status from Jammu and Kashmir state.

“The troops jumped over the compound wall of our house last night at around 11:30 p.m.,” said Malik’s father, Mohammad Amin Malik, 57.

“We were asleep, they knocked at the door. We opened the door and troops asked for Irfan. He was taken along. We asked for reasons behind his arrest, they decline to say anything,” he said.

A spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir government, Rohit Kansal, told Reuters that he would seek information about the arrest.

“I just heard about the incident. We are trying to verify it. We will collect details and look into it. As of now we have no information,” he said.

More than 500 local leaders and activists have been detained in the past 12 days of the crackdown.

Malik had worked for the paper for the past three years in the restive town of Tral, which is a hotbed of militancy in a decades-old Kashmiri separatist movement.

Malik’s father said he was told by an officer at the Awantipora police station on Thursday morning that there were “orders from the top” to arrest his son but the local police did not know the reason. They declined to release him.

Wiping away her tears, Malik’s mother, Haseena, told Reuters: “We curse the day he chose to become a journalist.”

Both parents spoke to Reuters in Srinagar, where they were hoping to see officials to plead for their son’s release.

India’s move this month tightened New Delhi’s grasp over the country’s only Muslim-majority region. It means that non-residents will no longer be banned from buying property in the state and state government jobs will no longer be reserved for residents.

(Editing by Martin Howell and Frances Kerry)

The Telegraph
Pakistani prime minister warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kashmir
The Telegraph Ben Farmer,The Telegraph Thu, Aug 15 7:12 AM EDT
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Narendra Modi highlighted the change to Kashmir’s status in his Independence Day speech – Bloomberg
Imran Khan has warned of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kashmir after Delhi revoked the region’s autonomy, as Pakistan held a symbolic “black day” of protest to coincide with India’s Independence Day.

Mr Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, warned there would be “radicalisation and cycles of violence” across the Muslim world if the international community ignored abuses by India.

Pakistan claims ownership of the disputed territory and has reacted with fury to last week’s decision to revoke Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status.

Thursday saw newspapers print editions with black borders and politicians, including Mr Khan, replaced their social media pictures with black squares.

Mr Khan accused the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, of forcing Muslims out of the state of Gujarat when he was chief minister in 2002.

Likening the situation in Kashmir to the massacre of Bosniaks during the Bosnian War, Mr Khan said: “Will the world silently witness another Srebrenica-type massacre and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Indian-occupied Kashmir? I want to warn the international community if it allows this to happen, it will have severe repercussions & reactions in the Muslim world setting off radicalisation and cycles of violence.”

A man waves a Pakistan-administered Kashmir flag as he takes part in Independence Day celebrations in Karachi on August 14, 2019, – Credit: AFP
A man waves a Pakistan-administered Kashmir flag as he takes part in Independence Day celebrations in Karachi on August 14, 2019, Credit: AFP
Pakistan says India’s abolition of Kashmir’s self-rule move was illegal and has started a diplomatic push to try to persuade the United Nations to intervene.

Yet the country’s foreign minister has also admitted India’s trading power and Pakistan’s isolation leave Islamabad with little leverage. Despite India imposing a strict military crackdown in what is India’s only Muslim-majority state, Pakistan’s allies in the Gulf have remained quiet.

Mr Modi told an Independence Day gathering that Kashmir’s special constitutional status had encouraged corruption and nepotism, while creating injustice for women, children and minority communities.

“Today every Indian can proudly say ‘One Nation, One Constitution’,” he said from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi.

Mr Modi also used his speech to warn of an unchecked population boom in the world’s second largest nation.

He said: “It is time to accept the challenges up front… population explosion. It will bring a lot of challenges for the future generations of this country.”

“We have to think if we can do justice to the aspirations of our children. There is a need to have greater discussion and awareness on population explosion.”

The prime minister hailed an “informed section” of Indians who were already having smaller families as “playing a big role in doing good for the country”.