WEB DESK: Indian-administered Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown since Monday when India revoked a special constitutional status dating back nearly 70 years. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey travelled for two days around the region, where a bitter sense of betrayal threatens to fuel fresh conflict.
In the heart of Srinagar city, Khanyar is an area notorious for anti-India protests. To get here during what amounts to a virtual 24-hour curfew, we pass through half a dozen roadblocks.
The paramilitary police try to hustle us away but the man wants to be heard. “You lock us up during the day. You lock us up at night,” he shouts angrily, wagging his finger. The policeman says there’s a curfew in place and that they must go inside immediately. But the diminutive old man stands his ground and challenges him again.
The dominant sentiment everywhere I go – anger mixed with fear and worry, and a fierce determination to resist the central government’s move.
Srinagar – the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – has been under a virtual lockdown since Monday morning and the city resembles a ghost town. Shops, schools, colleges and offices are all shut and there is no public transport on the roads.
housands of gun-wielding troops patrol deserted streets that are barricaded with coils of razor wire, and residents remain locked up inside their homes.
Everyone in Kashmir by then knew something was afoot, but of the dozens of people I spoke to, no-one expected Delhi would go this far and unilaterally revoke part of the constitution.
The communications blackout means reliable information is hard to come by, and news of what’s going on spreads by word of mouth. Despite the lockdown, we hear daily reports of protesters pelting security forces with stones in Srinagar and elsewhere. We hear a protester drowned when he was chased by troops and jumped in a river. Several people are believed to be injured and in hospital.
But the Indian government has been trying to show that all’s well in Kashmir.
Rizwan Malik says Kashmir “now feels like a jail, a big open-air jail”.
He flew from Delhi to Srinagar less than 48 hours after Home Minister Amit Shah laid out his plans for Kashmir in the parliament on Monday.
He said he had last spoken to his parents on Sunday night, a few hours before the government shut down all communications, including the internet. There was a total information blackout, and because he couldn’t reach any of his friends or relatives either, he decided to return home.
“It’s the first time in my life that we had no way of communicating with anyone. Never before have I seen anything like this,” he told me at his parents’ home in Srinagar.