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  • More than 200 politicians, including two former chief ministers of the state, were arrested, along with more than 100 leaders and activists.

    More than 200 politicians, including two former chief ministers of the state, were arrested, along with more than 100 leaders and activists. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 September 2019

It was not clear on what basis most of the people were being held but an Indian official said some were held under the Public Safety Act. 

Authorities in Indian Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 people since the scrapping of its special status last month, government data shows, the most clear evidence yet of the scale of one of the disputed region’s biggest crackdowns.

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Indian Occupied Kashmir has been in turmoil since India stripped its portion of the region of its autonomy and statehood on Aug. 5, leading to clashes between security forces and residents and inflaming tension with Pakistan.

In an attempt to stifle the protests that the reform sparked in Kashmir, India cut internet and mobile services and imposed curfew-like restrictions in many areas.

It has also arrested more than 3,800 people, according to a government report dated Sept. 6 and seen by Reuters, though about 2,600 have since been released.

It was not clear on what basis most of the people were being held but an Indian official said some were held under the Public Safety Act, a law in Jammu and Kashmir state that allows for detention for up to two years without charge.

The data for the first time shows the extent of the detentions, as well as indicating who was picked up and where.

More than 200 politicians, including two former chief ministers of the state, were arrested, along with more than 100 leaders and activists from an umbrella organization of pro-separatist political groups.

The bulk of those arrested - more than 3,000 - were listed as “stone pelters and other miscreants”. On Sunday, 85 detainees were shifted to a prison in Agra in northern India, a police source said.

Rights group Amnesty International said the crackdown was “distinct and unprecedented” in the recent history of the region and the detentions had contributed to “widespread fear and alienation”.

“The communication blackout, security clampdown and detention of the political leaders in the region hasmade it worse,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

The report contains data from the 13 police districts that make up the Kashmir Valley, the most populous part of the Himalayan region where the main city of Srinagar is located.

The largest number of arrests were in Srinagar, the data shows, at nearly 1,000. Earlier unrests often centered in rural areas.

Of the detained political leaders, more than 80 were from the People’s Democratic Party, formerly in coalition in Jammu and Kashmir state with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

About 70 are from the National Conference, which has for years dominated politics in Indian Kashmir, and more than a dozen from India’s main opposition Congress party.

Police also arrested more than 150 people accused of association with militant groups fighting Indian rule.

In the 24 hours before the report was compiled, more than two dozen people were arrested, mainly on suspicion of throwing stones at troops, the data showed.

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