Indian-Controlled Kashmir Under Strict Lockdown for 9th Day

NEW DELHI (AP) -
A lone commuter talks to Indian paramilitary soldiers in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir on Monday during an unprecedented security lockdown, forcing most people in the disputed region to stay indoors.

An unprecedented security lockdown is keeping people in Indian-administered Kashmir indoors for a ninth day Tuesday.

Indian troops patrolling the disputed region had allowed some Muslims to walk to mosques to mark a religious festival Monday and shops had been opened briefly on previous days.

But residents were running short of essentials under the near-constant curfew and communications blackout as India tried to stave off a violent reaction to the government’s decision Aug. 5 to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

Witnesses described hundreds of people chanting, “We want freedom” and, “Go India, go back” during a brief protest Monday. Officials said the protest ended peacefully.

The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India’s independence day.

Kashmiris fear India’s moves bringing the region under greater New Delhi control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.

India said its decisions to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrade it from statehood to a territory would free it from separatism.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between terrorists, civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it. The first one ended in 1948 with the region divided between them and a promise of a U.N.-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.

Islamabad has denounced the changes as illegal and in response has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services with India.