Security lockdown in place in Indian-controlled Kashmir

The deployment in recent days adds at least 10,000 troops in Kashmir, to what was already one of the world's most militarised regions

Security personnel stand guard at a gate of the Indian prime minister's house in New Delhi on August 5, 2019. Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir placed large parts of the disputed region under lockdown early August 5, while India sent in tens of thousands of additional troops and traded accusations of clashes with Pakistan at their de facto border. / AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN

An indefinite security lockdown was in place in the India-controlled portion of divided Kashmir on Monday, with thousands of newly deployed soldiers camping in police stations and government buildings around the increasingly tense region.

The deployment in recent days adds at least 10,000 troops in Kashmir, to what was already one of the world's most militarised regions. India has also ordered thousands of tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave the region.

The measures have sparked fears that New Delhi is planning to scrap an Indian constitutional provision that forbids Indians from outside the region from buying land in the Muslim-majority territory. Kashmiris fear the measures would be a prelude to doing away with the region's special status and intensifying an ongoing crackdown against anti-India dissenters.

Tensions also have soared along the Line of Control, the volatile, highly militarised frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which both claim it entirely.

Indian firing along the Line of Control on Sunday wounded one woman, Pakistani police said. In Pakistani border villages, residents were moving to safer places or building and strengthening bunkers and shelters protecting them from cross-border fire.

Pakistan and India routinely blame each other for initiating border skirmishes.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to chair a national security meeting on Monday.

Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won reelection early this year on a platform that included promises to do away with special rights for Kashmiris under India's constitution.

Around midnight on Sunday, government forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections to cut off neighbourhoods in Srinagar, the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir. The government issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies and movement and said schools would be closed.

Authorities also suspended internet services on mobile phones, a common tactic to prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organised and to stop the dissemination of news.

At the Srinagar airport, hundreds of Indian and foreign visitors, including some Hindu pilgrims, congregated outside the main terminal, seeking seats on departing flights. Tourists and pilgrims also took buses out of the region, with authorities busing out hundreds of Indian students from Srinagar colleges.

Rebels in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels' demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

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