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India tightens security in Kashmir ahead of ‘black day’ anniversary

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Indian army soldiers leave the site of a gun battle in Pulwama, south of Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, on April 2, 2021. (Photo by AP)

India has tightened security in Kashmir on the second anniversary of New Delhi’s imposition of direct rule on the disputed region and as local groups are calling for a shutdown to mark a “black day.”

Hundreds of extra police and troops were deployed in Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-administered Kashmir, on Thursday to stem potential protests on the anniversary of the decision by New Delhi to impose direct rule on the region.

Security forces set up new checkpoints and barricades across the city, with troopers, wearing bulletproof gear, checking vehicles and frisking residents on the roads.

The administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the Indian-controlled Kashmir of its partial autonomy and divided the region into two federal territories on August 5, 2019. New Delhi then launched a massive security operation and communications blackout that lasted for months, arresting thousands of people and deploying thousands of extra troops to the disputed territory.

Meanwhile, top local leader Seyyed Ali Geelani has called for a general shutdown to mark a “black day” to protest what he described as “India’s naked aggression.” The call by Geelani, who has been under house arrest for most of the last 13 years, has been supported by a number of smaller local groups who are also opposed to India’s rule of the region.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947, with both countries claiming the region in full. The Indian side of the region has been the scene of constant clashes between government forces and armed groups seeking Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier to launch attacks. Pakistan strongly rejects the accusation.

India and Pakistan have fought four wars since their partition in 1947, three of them over Kashmir.

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