SRINAGAR– Indian armed soldiers stand in front of barbed wire in occupied Kashmir’s near-silent summer capital of Srinagar during a massive security lockdown imposed on the restive region by the Hindu extremist government.
Kashmir was stripped of its seven-decade-long autonomous status through a controversial presidential decree on Monday, a day after a crippling curfew was imposed on its main city.
Home to more than one million people, Srinagar now looks like a ghost-town: armed soldiers on street corners and in front of barbed wire barricades make up most of the few people to be seen.
Information from the Himalayan region is scarce as all internet and phone connections were cut when the curfew was imposed.
Soldiers man checkpoints about every 100 metres on main roads in the city. Only people in essential jobs are allowed to leave their homes.
Virtually every shop is closed and residents said no fresh produce is arriving.
Most people stocked up with supplies of food in the days ahead of the curfew as rumours mounted that the New Delhi government was about to make its constitutional move, stripping Kashmir of its special privileges.
Pigeons and stray dogs in the city’s scenic squares are untroubled by tourists, who journey to the region to enjoy the picturesque lake and local handicrafts, and touts attempting to hawk the latest wares.
Meanwhile, at least six people were admitted to a hospital in the city with gunshot wounds and other injuries as a result if violation committed by Indian forces.
The region has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947, and the two sides have also fought two wars on this dispute.
New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of fresh troops to the valley earlier this month in anticipation of unrest over the decision.