Exclusive: Kashmir residents struggle under curfew
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As India cut off all forms of communication, imposed severe travel restrictions and detained more than 300 political leaders and activists across Kashmir on August 5, FRANCE 24 travelled to the Muslim-majority region.
India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, on August 5 scrapped a constitutional provision, article 370, which allowed the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws, putting the state under the worst lockdown witnessed in decades.
While the region remains under lockdown, news has been slow to trickle out of Kashmir. In Srinagar, the region's largest city, people have been queuing up outside a government office to reach their loved ones. Authorities have made just two phones available and each person is allowed just one call.
“We are facing a lot of problems. My kids are in Delhi, what can I do, I am worried. I haven’t spoken to them in five days. What will become of us?,” says an angry resident.
Anger and frustration
Anger and frustration are growing in the valley. Kashmiris have been through many curfews and lockdowns, but they say they’ve never seen something like this before.
A family, who agreed to speak to FRANCE 24 anonymously out of fear of backlash from the government, explained what life is like under the curfew.
“We came from Saudi Arabia to attend the marriage ceremony of our relatives, they cancelled it due to the curfew, due to these circumstances which the government imposed here,” a woman says.
“We are in a cage, we are totally cut off from the rest of the world. We don’t know what’s happening outside and what the solution of our problem will be in the future. The most important thing regarding our kids, they suffer. The education system is completely shut down”, says another member of her family.
Like many Kashmiris, she’s worried about how to feed her family. For shops are being intermittently shut, and civilian movement severely restrained. “There’s nothing outside, yesterday we got two crates of eggs, and we don’t have any vegetables. The vegetables are rotten, we bought them like that. We are not able to eat things like this," she adds.
The government says things are under control.
But sporadic protests have broken out against the scrapping of article 370 and some political leaders in Kashmir have warned of a possible backlash in the already restive region where militants have been fighting Indian rule for nearly 30 years.
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