Kashmir

Kashmir

Besieged Kashmiri neighbourhood in test of wills with India's Modi

Besieged Kashmiri neighbourhood in test of wills with India's Modi

20.8.2019

Besieged Kashmir i neighbourhood in test of wills with India's Modi

For more than a week, the young men of Soura, a densely populated enclave in Kashmir 's main city of Srinagar, have been taking turns to maintain ...

Each of the dozen or so entrances have been blocked with makeshift barricades of bricks, corrugated metal sheets, wooden slabs and felled tree trunks.

Kashmiri men shout slogans during a protest after the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, Aug 11, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

"If the world won't listen to us too, then what should we do? Pick up guns?"

Soura, home to about 15,000 people, is becoming the epicentre of resistance to Indian government plans to remove the partial autonomy that was enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority state.

A Kashmiri woman shows her hands with messages at a protest after Friday prayers during restrictions following the scrapping of special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar Aug 16, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Danish Ismail)

"We feel like we are guarding the LOC here," said Ejaz.

Residents in Soura say that dozens of people have been injured in clashes with the paramilitary police over the past week. It is unclear how many have been detained.

Kashmiri women shout pro-freedom slogans before offering Eid-al-Adha prayers at a mosque during restrictions following the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, Aug 12, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui)

At intersections in the warren of narrow lanes that make up Soura, a largely lower middle class area with a lake and marshy wetlands to its west, there are piles of bricks and stones for use against Indian troops.

As residents from surrounding neighbourhoods joined the demonstration, the crowd swelled to at least 10,000, according to local police sources.

Since then, Soura has been the scene of smaller demonstrations and daily running battles with the security forces, according to people living in the neighbourhood. The security forces have made several attempts to enter Soura, according to residents, with the apparent goal of sealing off a large area of open ground next to the Jinab Sahib shrine that has become an assembly point for protesters.

Another senior security official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity that"some of the youth of the area are highly radicalised" and it is"a hotbed of militancy". Islamist militant groups, he said, were influential in the area.

The Islamic State, which wants to establish a"caliphate" across the Islamic world, has also claimed responsibility for some attacks on Indian troops in Kashmir in the past couple of years.

The battle over Soura has received little coverage in the Indian media. That is partly because of the communications blackout in the region but also as many local TV channels and newspapers have emphasised the government’s position - that there is little resistance in Kashmir to its plans.

In a two-storey wooden home, Hameed was bent over 45-year-old Bashir Ahmed, cleaning a pellet wound near Ahmed's left eye with a swab of cotton wool dipped in Betadine disinfectant.

Minutes later, two young men were brought into the room. They knelt down and pulled off their T-shirts, revealing bloody marks across the front of their torsos where they had also been hit by pellets.

Read more: CNA

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